Petworth’s Betty gets ahead by knitting hundreds of baby hats

Betty Watney has knitted 550 hats for babies
Betty Watney has knitted 550 hats for babies

Betty Watney may be 86 years old, but when it comes to knit one, purl one, there are few knitters who could keep up with her.

Betty, who is diabetic and suffers from a heart condition, spends her days at her Petworth home, knitting woolly hats for babies born at St Richards Hospital in Chichester.

And she is now celebrating knitting an incredible 550 hats since she started the project last June.

“It keeps my fingers busy,” she explained at her Orchard Close home.

Betty started her special knitting task eight months ago at the suggestion of a visitor and has not looked back, since.

“I have Meals on Wheels,” she explained, “and one of the ladies who brings my lunch asked me if I would like to have a go at knitting these hats.

“She brought me a pattern and I got busy with the knitting needles.”

Each of the little stripey hats are individual with different colours worked into the pattern.

The hats used to be given to premature babies, but Mrs Watney said: “Apparently all newborn babies lose a lot of heat through the top of their heads and they all have to have a woolly hat, so that’s what I am doing – knitting them all a hat to go home in.”

The hats used to be discarded once the babies went home, but now they are given to parents as a keepsake.

Mrs Watney donates her hats through Prince’s Fabric shop in Petworth where they are collected by the midwives and taken to Chichester.

Mrs Watney provides all the wool for the newborn hats herself.