Onlookers couldn’t help but smile as the famous penguins at Worthing Hospital were changed into their summer collection this week.
Charity knitters arrived laden with trolleys of yarn, eager to strip the metal penguin sculptures of their winter hats and woollies, to transform them into new sunny sport-themed costumes.
“The whole idea is to make people smile, make their lives a little bit easier and give them something new to talk about,” said Belinda Milner, one of the undercover knitters from Storm.
The Worthing-based charity creates in secret special outfits for the parade of human-sized penguins which stand prominently in a courtyard near the hospital’s Main Entrance.
“The best bit is leaving as no one knows who we are, but we can overhear people’s lovely comments about the penguins,” said charity leader Ginny Cassell.
Both Ginny and Belinda have been there from the start, and have dressed the penguins up for three Christmases and a rich variety of other seasonal outfits over the years.
Ginny said: “When we started, it originally was just hats, but one summer we got really excited and knitted the penguins sunglasses, sandwiches, ice creams and a sandcastle!”
This season the penguins are sporting a variety of athletic attire, some holding woolly tennis rackets, others preparing to compete on the track, with a couple even wearing knitted swimming goggles.
This time, a larger knitting team has made the display even more impressive and entertaining for the thousands of people who pass by in the hospital.
Ginny said: “It is really very sociable and with more knitters this time it slightly takes the pressure off and of course it’s always nice to have an end result.”
Knitters from Storm have long been using their skills to decorate several plots in Worthing, from gardens and wasteland, to embellishing the sea front.
Worthing Hospital attracted Storm’s attention because the knitters knew their creations would be both safe and visible, and would brighten up the days of staff and patients alike.
The charity’s work goes far beyond knitting though. They also help feed the homeless, run youth groups, pick up litter, and host special Easter and Christmas events, all the while knitting the penguins’ new outfits throughout the year.
And as long as they continue to do so, the penguin courtyard will remain an uplifting and unique feature of Worthing Hospital.
All the staff at the hospital would like to say a huge thank you to the Storm team for the wonderful moments, smiles and chatter they inspire.