Clare’s generosity gets the Queen’s approval

Clare Cruickshank
Clare Cruickshank
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The Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have joined 5,000 other people across the world in being touched by a creative charity which began in Peterborough.

The Little Yellow Duck Project was created by Emma Harris in memory of her friend Clare Cruickshank who lived in Hampton Vale and died aged 26 from cystic fibrosis (CF).

Emma Harris

Emma Harris

And 18 months on its impact has been felt in all seven continents as well as the world’s most remote islands and even Buckingham Palace.

The charity raises awareness of the need for blood, bone marrow, organ and tissue donations through the knitting of yellow ducks which are left for strangers to pick up. A message at the bottom of the duck tells recipients to take it home and log the place it was found onto a website where they can learn about blood and organ donations. Hopefully, recipients will then make their own ducks to hand out, or donate blood and send in a photograph as proof.

So far ducks have been located in 78 countries and territories, with one recipient being the Queen whose Lady-In-Waiting sent back a message saying Her Majesty was touched by Clare’s generosity.

Clare had donated her corneas before her death so two young adults could see again.

The letter from the Queen's Lady-In-Waiting

The letter from the Queen's Lady-In-Waiting

Emma (40) who also has CF (an incurable condition of the lungs) will find out soon if she can join the waiting list for a double lung transplant.But she was delighted by the Royal response, saying: “It was quite amazing when the first letter came through from the Duke and Duchess, then the Queen.

“Everything we do is voluntary so when you receive something like that it’s acknowledgement for the work that you do.”

Emma, from Wiltshire, also gets great delight from messages of support on the website. “People who become organ donors and blood donors, that’s what makes it worthwhile,” she said. “The messages have a big impact on everyone involved. There’s a chronic shortage of donors.”

And with ducks spreading throughout the land, Emma is aiming even higher in the future as she aims to get a yellow duck into space. “We never thought we would get to 78 countries so you’ve got to dream big,” she said.

The inspiration is Clare, who had planned to travel the world if she had a transplant in time. Emma added: “Not a day goes by where we don’t miss her desperately. The duck project has helped with the grieving.”

The Royal Family were sent ducks by Clare’s mum Ann Rowcliffe of Oakdale Avenue, Stanground with one each for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Ann (60) said: “I fashioned a crown for the Queen’s duck and said ‘I hope it will be put in the Tower of London with the Crown Jewels’.”