A CORK crocheting enthusiast is seeking help to create handmade accessories and blankets for a West Cork autism centre and community hospital.
Dermot Hegarty is a community volunteer from Bandon who first started knitting to support his mental health.
The 51-year-old was introduced to the hobby after he joined his local Family Support and Community Wellbeing centre as a secretary in 2014.
“My mental health journey started in 2009. I am a big football supporter and got involved with the Cork City supporters club, where I was chairperson,” Mr Hegarty told The Echo.
“When Cork City got into trouble in 2009 I put all my passion and energy into saving the club. I suffered a nervous breakdown, resulting in a diagnosis of severe depression and, eventually, bipolar disorder.”
Mr Hegarty got involved with the Bandon Men’s Shed project in 2014 and later volunteered with Family Support and Community Wellbeing Bandon.
“I took up knitting through the arts and crafts group and I never looked back,” he said. “I have never been happier in doing something I love.”
However, his enthusiasm suffered a setback at the beginning of last year due to the pandemic. It took a certain Olympian to reignite the spark.
“2021 wasn’t a good year for me due to a family bereavement as a result of Covid. I lost interest in knitting and crochet,” Mr Hegarty said.
“It’s only when I was watching the Olympics and came across my hero Tom Daley knitting that I was inspired to take it up again.”
Mr Hegarty gets his patterns for his work from Youtube. At first, he only knitted scarves, but later he took up crocheting and loom weaving. Last September, he decided to start crocheting throws.
Now he wants to put his skills to good use for his community. For the project, Mr Hegarty plans to crochet over 75 items, which he says will take about nine months.
To do so, he is calling for donations from anyone with spare wool of any colour and size.
“I’ve decided to crochet blankets, throws, scarves and hats to donate to the Bandon Community Hospital, the Jack & Friends Centre for Autism, and St Vincent de Paul in Bandon,” he said.
“Unfortunately, due to being on disability allowance, I can’t afford to buy wool so I put out a call on Facebook to see if anyone had wool that they would be willing to donate and the response has been great.
“I’ve done eight scarves so far this month.”
Mr Hegarty said that the project will not only benefit his community, but also his own mental health.
“Since I have taken up the project I have seen a great improvement to my mental health, even my GP pointed it out recently.
“I would love to see more men with mental health issues take up knitting. Mental health needs to be a priority.”
Anyone who wishes to donate wool to the project can contact Dermot Hegarty via Facebook.