Crafty Irene is paying pennants for Olympics

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As the Olympic athletes pack up and head home many of them are carrying a precious keepsake in their luggage.

A total of 14,800 handmade pennants have been presented to athletes as a reminder of the London Games.

The craft idea, designed to get people sewing and involved in the Olympics, was dreamt up by Grovehill woman Irene Heathcote and touched people across the globe.

The project – Quilts 4 London – was launched in 2008 and invited people to make pennants that would then be presented to the athletes.

It inspired people as young as two and as old as 103 to get involved, with creations coming from around the world including South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Irene said: “A lot of people perhaps weren’t interested in sport but they wanted to get involved.

“Someone said: ‘I can’t run for the bus but I can sit and sew to make a gift.’

“In Dacorum we had about 500 guides, brownies, beavers, scouts and cubs make them. They can all now at least sew a button on, which is a life skill.”

Irene launched the project with the help of Catherine Hill. The pair formed part of a nine-strong team of volunteers living in Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted. They were helped by another 14 co-ordinators spread around the country and one other helper in Australia.

“It has just been a brilliant thing and I don’t think it has sunk in that it has finished yet,” said Irene.