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Saturday, March 29, 2014


(Pauline Dalais & Caroline Smart, who created the blanket)

The Retha Cilliers Memory Blanket is now complete and on its way to Johannesburg next week in time for the official launch of 67 Blankets for Madiba Day!

This blanket has been created in memory of Retha Cilliers. Formerly a bassoonist in the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, she went on to become the CEO of the massive Field Band Foundation.

Last year she was diagnosed with bone cancer and, after a long and extremely painful battle fearlessly fought, she passed away in February.

Retha’s close friend Caroline Smart visited her in Hospice in January and when Retha heard what she was doing regarding the 67 Blankets for Madiba Day project, she asked Caroline to teach her how to crochet so she could contribute.

A week or so later, when Retha was back at her home, Caroline arrived armed with crochet hooks and wool to teach Retha and her carer, Kim Davis. Retha was suffering from a lot of pain but was determined to learn. After Caroline had made a few rows, she took over the hook and the cream wool, which was the colour of her choice.

“Unfortunately, a few weeks later Retha was taken from us but that little piece of cream got me thinking about how to design a Memory Blanket for her,” says Caroline Smart. She put the idea to Retha’s friends who contributed wool for the blanket which she and her PA/secretary Pauline Dalais made up.

Choosing their individual colours, the friends involved are Anriette Chorn, Bryan Clarke, Nicky du Plessis, Rose Juby, Vessie Minkova, Ugo Paladini, David Smith, Derek Vaughan-Heapy and Janet Welch. Also Kim Davis and her domestic helper, Miriam Bhengu.

The creative thinking behind the blanket focuses on Retha's cream strip in the centre of the blanket. Alongside it is a little piece (red) done by Kim. This is surrounded by a mass of red representing the warmth and concern of Kim’s care of Retha.

Surrounding this is a protective yellow band representing Ugo Paladini (Retha’s ex-husband) who had been looking after her personal business affairs.

Retha then “moves outside” her earthly position and, in her cream colour, links all of her special friends together through their chosen colours. The border is dark green representing Nicky du Plessis who now holds Retha's precious Field Band together as its new CEO. It also represents the lush foliage that surrounded Retha's house.

“This has been a very special blanket to create,” says Caroline Smart. “Friends have been so supportive that there is now enough wool to make a Retha Memory Blanket #2!”

For more information on 67 Blankets for Madiba Day visit the Facebook page.