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Tuesday, 23 April 2019
A HENLEY pensioner who has enjoyed knitting since the age of five hopes to see her creations in as many shop windows as possible this summer.
Gwynn Anstey, 91, has knitted more than 30 cuddly bees for the town’s annual Henley Royal Regatta window display competition, which this year is themed around “celebrating the bee”.
Participating shops must create a display which illustrates that theme as well as the product or service they offer and must also incorporate one of Mrs Anstey’s hand-made insects.
There are cash prizes of £125, £100, £75 and £50 for the top four entrants, each of whom will also receive a bottle of champagne donated by Henley pub operator and brewer Brakspear.
The winner will also receive a trophy.
Mrs Anstey, who moved to the town from Devon two years ago, is the mother of Carolyn Molyneux, who runs the competition through her company Delegate Office and Conference Services, of Hart Street.
She has helped her daughter to promote the competition for many years and would often visit Henley during the summer to hand out flyers and encourage businesses to get involved.
She also regularly visits the annual Henley Regatta for the Disabled, where she runs a stall selling knitted jumpers, hats, gloves and large cuddly hedgehogs.
Mrs Anstey took up knitting as a child and used to own seven knitting machines before she left the south-west to be nearer her daughter and her husband, who lives in a care home in Surrey. She now owns just three.
She said: “Carolyn said she had a job for me and I was very happy to help out. I adapted it from my hedgehog design and just used a special tinsel for the stripes.
“The faces are still a bit pointy so I was a bit worried that people wouldn’t think they look like bees, but Carolyn says they look fabulous and it will be fun to see them hanging in all the windows.
“I’ve been doing this since I was five and still remember the first thing I knitted was a sock. I really enjoy it and had my girls knitting from a similar age.
“I own knitting machines but I did all of these by hand. Just the other day I woke up at 4am and didn’t feel the need to go back to sleep so I got up and knitted a few more.
“I’ve always loved it. When we lived in Devon, an inspector once came round to assess our house for council tax and said there was so much equipment that it looked like a commercial premises.
“My husband replied: ‘it’s not – it’s just my wife’s hobby gone mad!’”.
Mrs Molyneux came up with the idea following discussions with the Henley in Bloom initiative, which is raising awareness of the growing threat to bees and their habitats worldwide.
She said: “It’s not just about our competition. There are lots of initiatives going on in Henley to raise awareness of bees and protect them and we hope lots of people will support them.
“It is lovely to have Mum on board for this as she has always been very supportive. It’s a slightly unusual theme this year but it fits in well with the summer and I look forward to seeing what our local businesses come up with.”
The competition is also supported by IBS Office Solutions, financial advisers Milton Gordon & Co, the Head Partnership solicitors and Henley Town Council.
For more information, contact Mrs Molyneux on (01491) 579058
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