Grieving widow finds peace with knitting and created a garden of hearts

Smiling Clare Young lies amid a sea of wool after a knitting spree literally healed her broken heart.

She has gathered 40,000 hearts sent by 450 knitters around the world in a remarkable display of empathy and compassion.

An army of knit-one-pearl-one volunteers responded after Clare said the hobby helped her cope with the death of husband Ken, 47.

The pair, both divorcees, had met through Friends Reunited Dating 14 years ago.


They went on to marry but seeing Ken fighting for his last breath with bowel cancer has left Clare, 51, with post traumatic stress disorder and acute anxiety.

She took up knitting at the suggestion of her therapist. Clare, from Gloucester, started producing knick-knacks for the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in Cheltenham – which cared for Ken in his final weeks.

Then she and 25 pals “yarn bombed” a tree in the hospice gardens, with woollen characters representing the staff. Clare says: “That took us three months. We crept in overnight and were a local news story: the ‘Gloucestershire Banksy’.”

The Royal Horticultural Society then invited Clare to create a Work of Heart healing garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival from May 10-13.


That’s when it went into overdrive – she posted her story on Facebook and the hearts poured in.

Now visitors to the show can buy one and hang it in an avenue of trees in memory of a relative. Clare has even created yarn pots and plants and a detailed woollen version of the room where Ken was cared for.

She adds: “My aim was to raise £50,000 to mark what would have been Ken’s 50th. I explained my story and how much this project and the hospice meant to me. I stored the hearts in my front room.

“I have over 40,000 and countless friends, many of whom will be flying in from all over the world for the festival.

“Five each knitted over 1,000 hearts. It’s a privilege to be part of this ‘wool movement’.”

Dad-of-two Ken was living in Cardiff when he and Clare met in 2004. Their kids are now in their 20s. Clare recalls: “It felt like we were meant to be together. We got engaged in 2007, knowing we’d finally tie the knot when our kids left our nests. Then, in the summer of 2013, it was obvious Ken wasn’t at all well.”

The couple wed as Ken faced 25 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by radiotherapy.

Clare quit as a medical receptionist to care for him. But Ken died in 2015. As the festival looms, Clare is rightly thrilled at what she has achieved. She adds: “Ken would be so proud.”

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