Lifesize 1950s figures to tour care homes

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Penny Evans, of craft group Petal and Purl, spent months creating dozens of characters for a village festival

Lifesize knitted characters decked out in 1950s clothes are to tour care homes to spark reminiscences in the elderly.

A family going on holiday, Gladys the church organist and a girl in a bathing costume had formed retro scenes for a village festival in Norfolk last month.

In their new role the “dolls” will visit 20 care homes in East Anglia.

“We hope they will enrich residents’ lives with company, reminiscing and creating conversation,” said Steve Melton, of Black Swan Care Group.

“Each of the dolls has a label with their own name and a character, which is fantastic – that will spark engagement and memories.

“They can talk about that family going on holiday, where they are off to and what they are going to do.”

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Marion Harrison, pictured with Black Swan regional manager Steve Melton, said she particularly liked the character Jack, seated to the right

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Gladys, complete with 1950s-style cat eye spectacles, had been an organist in the church at the nostalgia festival in Caston

Residents with dementia often found comfort in a doll, teddy, or an item of clothing, so could respond to the figures if they appealed to them, he added.

‘Very lifelike’

Craft group Petal and Purl, based in Caston, near Attleborough, had spent 20 months making 60 figures to recreate a 1950s butchers, bakers, greengrocers and other scenes around the village.

Most of the characters and vintage props are being been sold off and have raised £2,000 for village funds.

“It’s lovely that they are staying in East Anglia,” said Penny Evans, of Petal and Purl, which sold 20 figures to Black Swan.

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All 20 figures have a name and character, created by Petal and Purl

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The figures were seated in the sunshine at Chiswick House in Norwich on the first stop of their tour

Barbara Walker, 89, a resident at Chiswick House in Norwich – the first to have the figures – said she found them “very lifelike”.

She and Marion Harrison knit blankets for the neonatal intensive care unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and appreciated the skill involved.

“I think they’re very clever – I love this little boy, Jack, he looks a lot of mischief,” said Mrs Harrison, who is in her nineties.