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Terminal cancer sufferer’s ‘Keep smiling’ message for Cloth of Kindness

PUBLISHED: 17:50 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:30 25 April 2018

Chris Andrews with his contribution for the Cloth of Kindness. Photo: Liz Coates

Chris Andrews with his contribution for the Cloth of Kindness. Photo: Liz Coates

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Former superbike racer Chris Andrews recounts tales of podium glory as his fingers nip nimbly in and out of a square of fabric.

An embroidery session at Big C in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Liz CoatesAn embroidery session at Big C in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Liz Coates

The 61-year-old, from Great Yarmouth, is among a group of people heads-bowed, needle-in-hand embroidering their innermost thoughts.

For someone with a terminal cancer diagnosis his message is unexpectedly upbeat - “Keep smiling” says the lettering, encircling a beaming emoji face.

“I’ve always been a very positive person,” he says, and group members are visibly moved by his cheery stitched instruction.

Everyone at the session is taking part in a community-led textile arts project at Great Yarmouth’s Big C centre in Regent Street.

Some of the embroidered squares that will make up the Cloth of Kindness being created for Big C centre users in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Liz CoatesSome of the embroidered squares that will make up the Cloth of Kindness being created for Big C centre users in Great Yarmouth. Photo: Liz Coates

The Cloth of Kindness is described as an innovative health and wellbeing project which brings together people of all ages and abilities to embroider their thoughts and experiences of kindness on individual patches.

MORE: Bishop blesses Cloth of Kindness at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

The patches are then sewn together to make a comforting cover to be used by the charity’s visitors in the relaxation room.

The first Cloth of Kindness was made by artist Sally-Anne Lomas and was inspired by the writings of Julian of Norwich and the idea of being “enfolded in love.”

The cloth also tips its hat towards the needled rants of Lorina Bulmer, resident in the Great Yarmouth Workhouse in the late 19th century - her rage, morphing into rousing encouragement.

She said: “The sewing skills needed to participate in a Cloth of Kindness are basic and easily learnt. It is a low energy, creative activity open to everyone and the focus on kindness is uplifting.

“Each patch is personal and unique, but sewn together they make something even greater as a whole.”

Also at the centre was Melissa Ross. The 26-year-old from Yarmouth has a brain tumour.

Her embroidery in sparkling gold was inspired by a trip to Disneyland with her young daughter and reads: “A dream is a wish your heart makes.”

The idea for those taking part is to focus on the positive and acts of kindness that may have helped, however small.

Sewing as well as being creative and relaxing also helped people to open up about their feelings, and for those using the finished product it was a chance to snuggle up and be “folded in love.”

The next sessions are on May 1 and May 8, 2.15 to 4.15pm, all welcome.

There are also DIY packs that can be picked up at the centre.

The lottery funded workshops move on to the Kings Lynn centre for five weeks from June 12.

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