Guest blog from Anna Bradley-Dorman, Public Affairs Chairman, Huntingdon & Peterborough Federation
Towards the end of 2014 Sally Dalley (Chairman of Huntingdon & Peterborough Federation) and I were privileged to meet with Ann Rowcliffe whose daughter, Clare, was born with a genetic lung disease and unfortunately, as a matching donor was never found, passed away aged 26. Even with her own time running out, Clare asked her Mum to promise to donate any organs or tissues that she could after her death. As a result, the sight of two young adults has now been restored by receiving her corneas.
Clare loved being creative and was also crazy about little yellow rubber ducks. On the first anniversary of her death, in memory of Clare, as a random act of kindness Ann left little yellow ducks in public places for people to find and take. This has now, thanks to Clare’s friend Emma, blossomed into a worldwide initiative called ‘The Little Yellow Duck Project’. Each duck has a label attached with a name and details of how to register the duck on a world map and, most importantly, how to register as an organ donor. Ducks have now been registered in over 65 countries and as a result many new donors have been created.
In our centenary year, the members of Huntingdon & Peterborough were encouraged to make a public display to show the difference the combined might of WI members can make to our community. So, to support this year’s resolution ‘Time to Talk’, we invited all our members to either knit, sew, crotchet or decorate one or more Little Yellow Duck for a ‘Duck Bomb’ on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th April 2015.
Ann likes to theme and name her ducks so we decided to call all our ducks Wilma as it begins with the letters WI. A special label was designed (with information about the ‘Time to Talk’ campaign on the reverse) that asked members to indicate who they had told about their wishes regarding organ donation.
Our members did not disappoint. We estimate around 1,500 Little Yellow Ducks (and some not so yellow or little!) were released over Friday 24th and Saturday 25th April. The full sized padding pool we put out at our Annual Federation Day was full to overflowing and we know that, in addition, several WIs were distributing their own ducks locally. Many had duck making evenings where members got together and one WI set themselves the task of knitting 100 ducks for the centenary.
Many local retailers, sports clubs, medical facilities, libraries etc. agreed to take some of our ducks and our thanks goes out to all of them. We were particularly delighted that the Organ Donation Committee of the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust wanted to work with us. We turned up on Friday the 24th with our paddling pool of around 200 ducks and Time to Talk leaflets and were greeted by the Chairman of the Hospital, Rob Hughes and Dr Tuba Hussain, the Trust Clinical Lead for Organ Donation who we, of course presented, with their own ducks. Dr Hussain said,
‘I love the cards saying “I have spoken to __ about my wishes”. Really great. So often that is where staff get stuck, to have it written down in black and white is fantastic.’
We were astounded with the response from the general public and employees alike. In fact we ran out of both leaflets and ducks by lunchtime so great was the take-up. It was fantastic to see all the ducks go off to new homes but most importantly we had so many conversations with people about both organ donation and the importance of making their wishes known. We were also joined that morning by Ann Rowcliffe herself, resplendent in bright yellow, Toby Payne (Chair of the Organ Donation Committee) and Teresa Jude (Organ Donation Administrator).
|Teresa Jude, Organ Donation Administrator|
The Duck Bomb has had significant social and local media coverage and has not only promoted the resolution but the WI as well. One comment about the ducks left on The Little Yellow Duck website said,
"Was lovely to see them and made me smile. Then I realised what the cause was and felt it was a good opportunity to let my family know my wishes. Has started a conversation...saw a couple of little girls hugging theirs whilst out for a walk, thank you for sharing. Will take Wilma to work to keep the conversation going."
Our aim was to get people talking and, even if people choose not to register their ducks or become an organ donor at least they will have had the conversation.
The campaign is called ‘Time to Talk’ – 1500 ducks certainly got people talking!
|Prue Leith with one of the ducks|