SUNFLOWERS and knitting have both been benefiting Weldmar Hospicecare Trust – and keeping the memory of two West Dorset women alive.

Ruth David spent her last days in Joseph Weld Hospice in Dorchester last year and the sunflower was her favourite flower.

The many friends who attended Ruth’s funeral were greeted by the sight of her open-topped sports car and hundreds of sunflowers. This set the tone for the celebration of Ruth’s life.

As they left, family and friends each took a sunflower in memory of Ruth and in the next few days lots of photos of her sunflowers pictured in situ popped up on her Facebook page.

Mel King, of Mop Shop, Beaminster, one of Ruth’s closest friends, said: “The sunflower theme just took off. Little did we know at that sad time that this would be the start of something positive.”

A few days later, Mel got a call from Jackie Hyde saying that she and her husband Howard had some sunflowers on their farm.

She suggested picking and selling them in aid of the hospice in memory of Ruth.

Mel said: “A group of us cut and picked the sunflowers, which kept growing until the frost began in late November. Picking sunflowers in the autumn sunshine was a lovely way to feel close to Ruth. I would like to thank all of the pickers: Helen Day, Margi Allen, Jimmy Allen and Karen Hawkins for their time and help, and Jackie and Howard Hyde for their generosity. I would also like to thank Angie Follett and Wayne Bennett for their generous donations.”

Throughout October and November the sunflowers were sold in numerous places in and around Beaminster – including Mop Shop, Café Ann Day, Beaminster School, Annabel and Brian Jackman, and Girling and Bowditch Vets, where Ruth worked for more than 30 years.

By promoting Weldmar and selling the sunflowers they raised £1,556.23.

Mel is now promoting, in memory of Ruth, a new fundraising venture with Nessie’s Yarns & Crafts in Beaminster.

Mel said: “Nessie Dear instigated the big knit before she sadly passed away at the end of last year, but the knit ’n’ natter group at the shop is continuing with her idea – knitting snoods, leg warmers and scarves for sale with the proceeds going to the Weldmar Hospice and Penny Brohn Cancer Care, Bristol.

“They are also offering to knit to order using the customer’s choice of colours and yarn. I had a beautiful snuggly snood knitted with alpaca wool and I encourage everyone to go along to the shop and get an order in. It is the perfect treat for the new year.”