KIND-HEARTED knitters from across the Herald area created items for premature babies at the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Christmas Day was made a little brighter for worried new parents thanks to the impressive efforts of the knitters.

Bliss – the charity for babies born premature or sick – organised the donation of Christmas gifts to 46 special and intensive care baby units across the country, including the Royal Surrey.

On Christmas morning more than 1,000 families found a surprise stocking and pretty toy on their baby’s incubator or cot.

Bliss also donated little blankets and sets of matching cardigans, hat and boots to each hospital.

It’s thanks to the Herald that the Bliss knitters got off the ground almost 34 years ago.

Dianne Bennett of Haslemere Bliss wrote appealing for people to make little cardigans for the Royal Surrey baby unit.

Her letter was published in all Herald editions and by the end of the first week there were more than 40 volunteers.

That number has grown to 475, spread right across the Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex borders from Alton to Petworth and Guildford to Petersfield.

So people do not have to go to the expense of posting their knitting, Bliss has collection points in Haslemere, Farnham, Godalming and Cranleigh.

There is a team of five who deliver the knits to hospitals within driving distance – others receive their gifts by post.

During Covid lockdowns many Bliss knitters found having a worthwhile project helped them through, and the result was a big influx of knits once collecting centres were able to open up. Jan Dolman deals with knitting produced in the Farnham area, and everything else comes to Haslemere for storage and packing.

Dianne got involved with Bliss after having three premature babies. She started the Haslemere Bliss Branch in 1984, then went on to become a trustee of the charity, serving on the board for 25 years.

Haslemere’s charities fair was Dianne’s idea and it ran successfully for 36 years. In 2016 Bliss presented Dianne with a Lifetime Support Award. She also fundraises for Bliss and raised more than £2,000 last year.

New Bliss recruits are always welcome.

The knits are washed frequently and don’t last long, so the need is ongoing. To volunteer email Dianne on [email protected] or call 01428 642320.