Beanies for the Mission to Seafarers


A lady sits quietly knitting in her home. It’s a small room in an aged care facility. She has poor eyesight suffering the ailments of the elderly including macular degeneration. The last injection wasn’t so effective so she feels her way through. There wasn’t enough 8 ply wool so she is joining together two strands of 4 ply. She has a purpose. She is knitting beanies – about one or more each day for the seafarers who she will never meet. The process is repeated in another home for the aged not far away, and many more people besides are on a mission – a mission to seafarers.

At the Port of Brisbane, there is a building where the crew of the many ships which call can come and find refuge. There are a couple of pool tables, lots of books, comfy chairs, refreshments, and beanies. In fact Rev Bill Pearson says the word has got around the world that if you want a bright colourful beanie, unique in its design, the Missions to Seafarers in Brisbane is the place to go. These days the turnaround time for the ships is so short that the crews don’t have time to go too far, so having the Mission right there at the port is pretty good. They select a hand knitted wool beanie and at this time of year it will be pretty handy for the Northern Hemisphere winter.

This ministry was started many years ago by a lady affectionately known as Boltie. Sometimes the tag “the Beanie Babe” was added, and Boltie loved the tag. You can get a copy of her book about her life published after her death from the St Bart’s office. Back then she had a few knitters and every few months the 50 or so beanies would be blessed and added to the books and clothes that were taken to the Mission to Seafarers at the Port.

The tradition has continued and there are now many more Beanie Babes performing the service. Each beanie comes with its own Bible verse so not only does the beanie provide physical warmth but spiritual support as well. Elizabeth Dutton is the co-ordinator (chief Beanie Babe) and collects the wool and distributes it. Last week 430 beanies were blessed and delivered to the port. That was three months knitting.

For some, their world is the room they are confined to knitting beanies for those that travel their world in large ships, taking a little piece of God’s blessing with them. Thank you Beanie Babes.