Two women from Nab Wood have knitted over 160 items for Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Neonatal Unit, responding to a challenge set by a staff member at their care home.

Jean Rhodes, 89, and Pauline Robinson, 83, are part of the knit and natter group at Czajka Care Group’s Brookfield Care Home in Nab Wood, Shipley.

Activities Coordinator, Andrea Ingham, from Brookfield Care Home, said: “We set up the knit and natter group so anyone who enjoyed knitting could get together and enjoy each other’s company whilst knitting. We provide all the wool and knitting needles and we soon realised what keen knitters Jean and Pauline are.

“We are always looking at ways in which our talented residents can support the local community, and we thought linking up with Bradford Royal Infirmary would be a great project. We talked to Jean and Pauline about our idea, and they were very keen to rise to the challenge.

“We know people who work at the hospital, and they explained that they always need bonding squares, bonnets and blankets, so we got to work!”

Jean, who is originally from Nab Wood, moved into Brookfield Care Home four months ago. She said: “It’s lovely to come back to Nab Wood after living with my daughter in Mexico. I used to be the head secretary and bursar at Belle View Girls School, so I didn’t have much time to knit in those days but since retiring I have always enjoyed knitting. It’s nice to be a part of the knit and natter group and Pauline and I started work on the things for the hospital in October.”

Pauline has lived in Nab Wood for over 20 years. She initially moved into Czajka Care Group’s retirement homes at Fairmount Park before moving into Brookfield Care Home last year. Pauline said: “I used to work for the fashion brand Gratton before retiring and have family that I often knit for. When Andrea talked to Jean and I about the babies at the hospital, we both knew we wanted to help. The bonding squares are used to give the babies their mum’s scent, but they can only be used once, so they need lots of them!”

Andrea added: “Jean and Pauline have totally taken this on as their own project and been very serious about it. After dinner they often go straight back to their knitting instead of other activities, and we can’t believe the number of bonding squares, bonnets and blankets they have made in such a short space of time – it’s very impressive!”

Andrea, Jean and Pauline all visited Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Neonatal Unit to hand deliver the items. Andrea added: “The team were ever so grateful to us, and it has made Jean and Pauline feel very valued. Everyone at Brookfield Care Home is super proud of what they have achieved, and Jean and Pauline have enjoyed the whole project so much they plan to keep going! We are therefore going to hopefully be working with Airedale Hospital to do something similar. We are also in talks with Bradford Royal Infirmary to see if Jean and Pauline can volunteer at the hospital, as they are both very able and enjoy helping.”Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Neonatal Unit provides various levels of newborn medical care and intensive care to babies from Bradford and across the Yorkshire region. It is also home to an Intensive and High Dependency Care Unit.

Brookfield Care Home caters to 37 residents, each with their private en-suite rooms. The team of 45 care professionals provides full-time care, respite care, palliative care, day care, and short breaks at the purpose-built home. Brookfield Care Home is part of a broader development at Fairmount Park, which includes retirement homes and The Clubhouse, a first-class leisure facility, all on Nab Wood Drive in Shipley.

The proposed changes will undergo discussions and public consultation before final budget plans are considered and approved in February 2024. The financial strain is evident in the current fiscal year’s overspend of £35.3 million, with further projected savings of £60.6 million in 2025/26 and £46.1 million in 2026/27.