Bergvliet philanthropist honoured

Louise Allnutt with her daughter Roxy at the Denizen Hero gala awards.

A former Bergvliet resident who runs a project, Beanies for Africa, which puts beanies on local tots’ heads, has received a citizen’s award in her adopted country, New Zealand, for her philanthropy.

Louise Allnutt was honoured as a Denizen Hero at a gala event in Auckland, New Zealand.

Born and raised in Bergvliet, Ms Allnutt, 43, is the youngest daughter of Daphne and the late Gordon Burnie.

She attended Sweet Valley Primary and matriculated from Bergvliet High in 1990. She emigrated in 1995 and married New Zealander Dean Allnutt, whom she had met when he was playing rugby for Hamiltons in Green Point. They live in Torbay in Auckland and have a daughter Roxy, 16, and son Max, 10.

Ms Allnutt said the Denizen Hero award was given to people whose exemplary efforts had greatly enhanced the everyday lives of New Zealanders.

She is coming home for her mom’s 80th birthday party and will be staying with her sister, Susan, in Diep River.

And one thing is sure, her suitcase will be filled with as many beanies as possible. These will be distributed by her mum to various day hospitals and clinics in the poorer areas of the peninsula as well as inland where the winters are really cold. “I’ve only knitted one-and-a-half beanies, but my mum’s been knitting them for maternity hospitals for many years,” she told the Bulletin by email, adding that she is a much better co-ordinator.

“I’ve collected well over 10 000 beanies since 2006 and sent them all over the world with travellers,” she said.

She came up with the idea for her beanies project after attending a Landmark Education weekend seminar in 2006 in Auckland.

“I realised that there were many knitters looking for places to support and many more South Afri- cans living near me and constantly travelling between home and New Zealand,” she said.

And, realising that one person can make a difference in the world she got her fingers into many pies in her new home.

But it’s not beanies that won her the Denizen Hero award. During her time in Auckland, she has established her own corporate apparel and promotional products business called Monty’s Promotions. Through this, she got involved with various charity organisations and six years ago she created Foster Hope, an organisation that provides teddy bears for local foster children going into a new home.

Under her direction, Foster Hope grew into a volunteer-based organisation with eight offices nationwide providing tangible goods and services for 5 000 children. “From a pair of new pyjamas to a fluffy toy, a patchwork quilt or a ‘flat pack’ containing practical items for teenagers transitioning out of foster care at the age of 17,” said Ms Allnutt.

She adds that giving teenagers these backpacks can be the turning point which makes a foster child realise that somebody cares about them, someone not paid to do this.

But it is her Beanies for Africa project that will benefit local babies. Despite hundreds of women knitting for this charity, Ms Allnutt is always on the lookout for more – people travelling from New Zealand to South Africa who can include a bag of beanies in their luggage.

Ms Allnutt will give a talk at Bergvliet Methodist Church, on the corner of Ladies Mile Road and Homestead Way, on Monday July 18, at 7pm. For more information about the beanie project, call Daphne Burnie at 021 715 2564 or Maureen Carney at 021 789 2282.