Sheffield knitter raises amazing £40,500 for city hospital's Weston Park Cancer Charity

A Sheffield knitter has used her skills to raise £40,500 for a city cancer hospital in gratitude for care she and her husband received.

Saturday, 8th January 2022, 7:24 pm

Janet Blackburn, aged 67, from Hillsborough has been raising money for Weston Park Cancer Charity, which supports the city’s cancer treatment hospital.

Helped by three friends, she knits toys, blankets and clothes and sells them, having to learn how to set up shop online when the pandemic meant she couldn’t do stalls at events and in the hospital.

Janet decided to switch from raising money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance in gratitude for the exceptional care she received when both she and her late husband Rob had cancer.

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Janet Blackburn on one of her past Weston Park Cancer Charity stalls at a Percy Pud running event in Sheffield - she knits the official woolly hats for running group Steel City Striders

She said of the Weston Park charity: “They’re so good and so rewarding and so pleased. They make me feel quite special really.

“It is a wonderful, absolutely fantastic hospital. Both me and my husband were under them in 2011. I decided when I felt better that I’d change to them and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Janet’s husband Rob was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in October 2010 and two weeks later Janet found she had breast cancer.

She said: “It was awful because we found out that Rob’s was terminal.”

A display of Janet Blackburn's knitted Christmas gifts and novelties - she has raised more than £40,000 for Weston Park Cancer Charity in Sheffield

Janet had a mastectomy and then her lymph nodes removed and Rob had palliative chemotherapy at Weston Park before he was admitted to the palliative care centre at the Northern General Hospital for end-of-life care.

When Janet was being treated at Weston Park for a serious infection the following May, Rob became critically ill.

How can I support Janet’s work for Weston Park Cancer Charity?

She was amazed when staff arranged to transport her to visit Rob, accompanied by a specialist nurse, two days running. They then arranged the care she needed to be able to stay in Rob’s room overnight, so she could be with him when he died.

A proud moment for Weston Park Cancer Charity fundraiser Janet Blackburn - the Sheffield hospital charity thanked her for raising more than £40,500

Once she was ready to leave, within 10 minutes an ambulance arrived to take Janet back to hospital.

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She said: “Everybody there, from the consultants down to the cleaners, they were all so, so lovely.”

Everyone pulled together again to help Janet make it to Rob’s funeral.

She said that the care has continued as charity staff support her and tell her where they spend her money every year. She has helped to provide improved treatment areas, wi-fi access and smart TVs for staff, recliner chairs in rooms, treats for young patients and much more.

Janet had to change her way of working during the pandemic. “I used to have stalls in shops and arcades and anywhere that would have me, plus some fairs and things like that. When Covid came out, that stopped everything.

“The first year I made hardly anything and got quite depressed, not making money. Before Christmas 2020, I found online Christmas markets were popping up and got on one of them.

"From there, other people have seen that and asked if I’d like to join their market and it snowballed a little bit. I’ve now got a Facebook page, Janet’s knitted novelties and more.”

She has been excited to sell her goods to customers in France, Spain and the USA as a result.

Janet asks people to like her page and to share it to help spread the word.