In life she wanted to conquer the world, and in death Clare Cruickshank is halfway there.
Four years after she passed away aged 26 from cystic fibrosis, the charity set up to reflect Clare’s acts of kindness has now touched people in 95 countries through something as simple as hand-crafted yellow ducks.
The Little Yellow Duck Project was set up by Clare’s mother Ann Rowcliffe and friend Emma Harris as it encapsulated both Clare’s love of life, her generosity and her delight at bath ducks.
Clare, of Hampton Vale, was born with the genetic lung disease and passed away after a matching donor could not be found for a transplant, but her compassion led to her organs and tissues being donated after her death, and her corneas helped two young adults have their sight restored.
The project sees knitted yellow ducks left for strangers to pick up. The message on the bottom tells the recipient to take the duck home and log the place it was found on to the project’s website.
Those who enter the website can also learn more about the importance of blood, bone marrow, tissue and organ donations with some suitably moved to go and donate blood and send through photos of them doing so.
So far, 9,000 ducks have been registered across 95 countries, but Clare’s legacy can also be seen closer to home as family and friends came together on the fourth anniversary of her death last Sunday to hand out and hide crafted yellow ducks at Central Park.
Ann, who also dressed up as a yellow duck on the day, said: “Despite the cloudy weather I was delighted at the number of friends and family who came out to support me. We spoke to several people about the project and handed out, or hid around the park, 100 yellow ducks in memory of Clare’s random act of kindness in donating her corneas.
“I’m aware that ducks like water but the ones that we hid are sealed to protect them from any poor weather.
“If any readers find ducks please register them on the website and leave a comment if they wish.
“There will have been other events going on around the country to leave ducks as gifts but also in the hope that they will encourage families to talk about their views on donations of blood, tissue and organs.
“There are currently 95 countries listed where ducks have been found. My daughter Clare used to joke that she would like to have world domination so it’s with a smile that I think something in her memory has reached half of the globe!”
Emma added: “Clare was crazy about little yellow ducks and collected them in all shapes and sizes. It was an example of the sweet, amusing and fun-loving person that she was.
“Each one can spread some sunshine and happiness and – with any luck – perhaps even go on to save a life by encouraging someone to consider becoming a blood, bone marrow or organ donor. Let’s keep the yellow ducks flying!”
For more information on the project and the importance of donors, visit: https://thelittleyellowduckproject.org/.