‘We’ve got our own knitting Banksy’

From secretive midnight missions to co-ordinated group efforts, festive knitters have crafted scenes of Christmas cheer. The BBC spoke to some of the people yarn bombing central England.

In Bridgnorth, Shropshire, a mystery artist has decorated a High Street postbox under the cover of darkness for about two years.

But rather than a spray can, this urban clandestine creative is armed only with wool.

“We feel like we’ve got our own Banksy – our unique knitting Banksy,” said Town Council clerk Clare Turner, who added the “amazing” creations boosted community spirit.

To the north of the county in Ellesmere, a knitting group has also garnished trees and made a trail of robins to hide in shop windows.

But that’s not all they’ve knitted.

When the Ellesmere Yarn Bombers were recognised for the benefit they brought to the town, they went in disguise.

They accepted an award from the High Sheriff of Shropshire while wearing knitted beards, so that, like Banksy, they could keep safe their secret identities.

“So many people stop us and say how [the decorations have] cheered them up,” said an unmasked Alison Utting from the group.

“[Tourists] come to the Mere or the canal [but] we wanted to lure people into the town and that’s been very successful.”

Other operations are less opaque. In north Warwickshire, Fillongley Knit and Natter group spent six months crocheting a 30-foot (9.1 metre) Christmas tree for a village festival.

Group co-ordinator Celia Parker said it was a team effort by members whose ages spanned eight decades, funded by council community grants.

“The star on the top was made by Mavis, a lady who [has turned] 90. We call her the star of our group,” Ms Parker added.

Lizzie Shenton from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, has along with her friend Ruth decorated a postbox in Morrisons on Goose Street for the past two years.

“I think what’s nice is when we see people taking photographs of [the decorations] – it’s making people smile,” Mrs Shenton said.

“Things have been so difficult the last few years – that’s part of the reason we did it, just to add a bit of colour.”

In Kidderminster, Brownies and Guides teamed up with clubs, businesses and knitting groups to make scores of festive postbox scenes.

Organiser Heather Prangley said the initiative helped community wellbeing, “particularly at this dark time of year when people get fed up”.

“It’s about making memories, working together and promoting where we live [and] that we love it,” she added.