WHEN Linda Milne knitted her first scarf the NHS was less than 10-years-old.

Now, her woolly creations are helping Great Western Hospital build cancer therapy machines that could save thousands of lives.

While a lot has changed in 70 years, Cheney Manor Linda’s passion for knitting has weathered the decades.

The great grandmother is now the Great Western Hospital’s most profitable knitter.

Since April, she has raised over £200 for the hospital’s cancer-busting Brighter Futures radiotherapy appeal.

With a brain teeming with woolly ideas, Linda’s brightly-coloured knitted hedgehog and owl soft toys have proven popular – rapidly selling out when they are advertised on the Brighter Futures’ social media pages.

Linda, 71, said: “I was taught to knit by my grandmother and mother.”

Handing over a photograph of herself as a girl, knitting a scarf, she said: “It was full of colours – and full of holes.”

She started knitting for the hospital’s Brighter Futures charity in the spring, after spending a week on the wards being treated for osteoarthritis.

“The nurses fell in love with what I was knitting, which was a hedgehog,” she said. “I had no stuffing, so I stuffed it with paper tissue and left it for one of the nurses.

“But I did make a pledge to knit some hedgehogs for the hospital. Then, I bought a pattern to do the owls.”

Around once a month, Linda now brings a box of colourful creations into the hospital for the Brighter Futures team.

The proceeds from the toys’ sale goes towards GWH’s £2.9million radiotherapy appeal.

Linda said of the hoped-for new radiotherapy unit: “I think it’s important for Swindon. I know a lot people who have had to travel to Oxford. It’s very draining for an elderly person.

“Brighter Futures is a good charity. They all do such a wonderful job – and we exchange knitting patterns!”

That Linda can still knit at all is in part thanks to the hospital’s surgeons.

Four years ago, Linda had an operation to heal an extremely stiff right hand. A bone in her wrist was removed by surgeons, along with tendons.

The surgery was a success and allowed her to knit again – but only after a break of almost a year.

“My surgeon was thrilled the day I said I’d started knitting again,” Linda smiled.

Catherine Newman, head of fundraising at Great Western Hospital, said: “Linda’s just been brilliant. She’s one of my favourite people.”

Brighter Futures is lucky to have an “army” of knitters. Their woollen chicks brought in £3,500 for the charity’s appeal this Easter.

The "army's" knitted Christmas creations can be bought at Brighter Future’s Christmas fair, Saturday, November 25, at Grange Community Centre, from 10am – 3pm.