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Hello dolly! Here’s hoping Godfrey will be a big money-spinner for us

In good hands ... doll Godfrey with his ‘creator’ Barbara Portner (right) and ESRA Chairperson Brenda Katten

 Meet Godfrey Gadabout, the doll knitted by Barbara Portner which ESRA is soon going to raffle or put up for auction. Says Chairperson Brenda Katten, "Whatever we do with Godfrey, he's sure to bring money into ESRA's coffers, one way or another."

Barbara, who made aliyah with her husband Morris, in 1979, has always been a volunteer. While still living in England she was very active in the campaign to release Soviet Jewry, and once here, and living in Netanya, she volunteered in many different organizations but always with the aim of helping the disadvantaged.

She was one of the first people to realize that the Ethiopian immigrants badly needed help. Her small son came home from school one day and told her that he thought some of the children did not have enough to eat and were coming to school hungry. After she checked it out for herself, she began making sandwiches for the needy children – "she made hundreds of sandwiches," says Morris proudly, and soon got organizations like Wizo involved to help out.

Barbara is a very talented artist and the small apartment where she and Morris live in Protea Village is decorated with her beautiful paintings and ceramics.

Since she suffered a stroke seven years ago, Barbara has not been able to do what she loves and excels in – painting.

"She sets herself a very high standard," says Morris.

Luckily and with perseverance, she was able to find something she could do – knitting dolls – and she has thrown herself into the project with enthusiasm.

When she began making dolls, she wanted to donate one to a children's home in Netanya.

"But I couldn't give just one," she recalls. "There were 28 children in the group."

She ended up giving 14 dolls and 14 footballs to the delighted children.

One of her dolls has already been raffled and a large sum raised for Ethiopian children.

Nowadays she follows the patterns in her book of Knitted Clowns by Jean Greenhowe which is where she found Godfrey. If she has any trouble reading the instructions, a friend will help her.

She and Morris celebrated 55 years of marriage recently and moved to Protea Village four years ago. "It was the best move we ever made," says Morris.

Barbara has plans to produce many more dolls.

"I enjoy making them because I know they are going to bring in money for charity," she says.

 

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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

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