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Lynn Pilgrim


Heart to Heart

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My name is Lynn Pilgrim. I moved to Kidlington with my husband and 5 week old baby in the week between Christmas and New Year with a plan to stay for 5 years — that was 30 years ago!

I spent 20 years as a nurse working at the Old Radcliffe Infirmary, Churchill and ‘New’ John Radcliffe hospitals and then 20 years running a childrens’ injury prevention programme 'The Injury Minimization Programme for Schools' (I.M.P.S.) learning all sorts of random skills along the way.

These days I still work two days a week as a project manager for I.M.P.S. but I also spend as much time as possible working with textiles and mixed media in my little summerhouse in the garden.

I am passionate about swifts, love cooking and eating, gardening, walking, travelling and cinema. I am a member of the Oxford Embroiderers Guild and enjoy the challenge of taking part in many textile projects and exhibitions.

I have recently been involved with two similar but very different projects, both commemorating the pincushion hearts that injured servicemen made during their convalescence in the First World War.

Sawdust Hearts Project

Supporting former Servicemen and Women.

The Sawdust Hearts Project organised by the wonderful Helen Birmingham from Untangled Threads aims to highlight the benefits of Occupational Therapy and the power of craft in healing.

It involves the co-ordination and creation of 1,568 replica, embroidered and pinned WW1 sawdust filled hearts. This is one for every day of the First World War. In November 2018 the hearts will be displayed in an ambitious artwork which will form the centrepiece of a commemorative exhibition and public event to be held on the centenary of Armistice Day 2018 at Woodend Creative Workspace in Scarborough.

5% of all sales related to this project will be donated to Combat Stress a charity which supports former servicemen and women to deal with issues like trauma, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

1,568: a heart for each day of World War I.


Wounded soldiers made hearts to send back home.

Military pin stuck pin cushions were made during the First World War and injured soldiers made them for their sweethearts, wives and mothers. The therapeutic effect a wounded soldier gained by making and sending a sawdust heart was immense and the practice of Occupational Therapy can be traced back to this time in history.

You can read all about the history of the military sweetheart pincushions in Diane Grant's book “Forget me not”.

I was drawn to this project as soon as I stumbled upon it and wanted to take part. It was an exciting moment when the box and all its contents arrived and I spent a happy half hour or so watching all of the information "how to" videos on Helen's website which gave such a great overview of the whole process.

I had a sample of gesso, acrylic and free machine embroidery I wanted to incorporate and that along with a green velvet fabric and beads from my stash formed the starting point.

I found the pinning of this heart very therapeutic and can quite understand how it would have helped with the recovery of injured service men, especially if they were making a heart for a special woman in their lives.

You can view all of the sawdust hearts in the Commemorative Catalogue which will be available from early November 2018.

Green velvet fabric and beads formed my starting point, and grew my
understanding of how making helped the recovery of injured servicemen.

Embroiderers Guild 100 Hearts

My Eureka Moment!

The Embroiderers Guild 100 Hearts project is to commemorate the life of a loved one or those who died fighting in WW1, those who survived the war and those waiting at home. The completed embroidered hearts will be exhibited in various locations around the UK.

As a former nurse I knew I wanted to commemorate the lives of the nurses and VAD's from WW1 and when doing my research I came upon this poem by Vera Brittain.

Epitaph On My Days in Hospital
I found you in a holy place apart
Sublime endurance, God in man revealed,
Where mending broken bodies slowly healed
My broken heart

I knew instantly that I wanted to include this powerful and moving poem on my heart and spent many hours trying to work out how. Eventually, I stumbled upon a sample of mono printing and stitch I made last year. This gave me the Eureka moment I needed to spur me on to completion. The printed landscape with its muted colours in dark grey looked to me like a battle field and the tiny pricks of red symbolised the poppies that grew in the battle fields. I printed the poem onto fabric and stitched the words onto the felt heart. The muslin fabric between the two halves has been left to fray organically and this is to symbolise bandages. As a final stage I added small amounts of red acrylic paint to symbolise blood.

Being part of this project really made me think about how the moving words of Vera Brittain brought all of the elements of my design together to portray this powerful message.

I printed Vera's poem onto fabric and stitched the words onto the felt heart.

My heart is exhibited at The Bucks County Museum Aylesbury up until 12th January 2019, and you can read more about these projects by following this link.

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Quill Pen
Lynn Pilgrim
November 2018

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Please address any comments you may have about this article to:

• 13 Henrietta Ussher, The Children's House
• 12 Tony Bennell, Party Time!
• 11 Giles Woodforde, Magic Bellringing
• 10 Lynn Pilgrim, Heart to Heart
• 09 Marita Ferrett, Kidlington Macular Support Group
• 08 Sue Honoré, Who Were My Accestors?
• 07 Ryan Rushton, Daybreak's Fun Run
• 06 Ella Gauci, Applying for University
• 05 Robert Bullard, Using Email
• 04 Michael Watts, Two Words of Caution - Care and Patience
• 03 Alan Sowden, Keeping Your Books
• 02 Ella Gauci, Hidden Value in Kidlington's Charity Shops
• 01 Giles Woodforde, Colin Dexter's Memorial Service


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