Olympic champion Ben Maher immortalised in yarn on Essex post box

  • Anyone posting letters in Great Dunmow may have noticed a familiar figure atop one of the town’s postboxes — Olympic champion Ben Maher.

    The local rider, along with fellow Tokyo gold medallists Max Whitlock and Beth Shriever, has been immortalised as a knitted figure, in “yarn bomber” Kathleen Shannon’s latest postbox topper.

    Kathleen told H&H yarn-bombing, which takes place across the country, involves decorating landmarks such as railings and trees, with crocheted or knitted items.

    Her knitting group has not met recently owing to Covid but Kathleen and Jackie Monk have still been working hard to cheer up postboxes this year.

    Previous designs have featured flowers and bumble bees, but then when British diver Tom Daley was spotted knitting in Tokyo, Kathleen knew she had to recreate him in wool.

    “I’d planned to do it anyway, and had finished it on the Sunday, then on the Monday realised he was diving for gold,” she said. “So when he won, I had to quickly knit a gold medal to add to the figure!”

    Then Kathleen’s local BBC channel rang to ask whether she would knit Beth and Max too.

    “I hadn’t planned to, but Beth is very local, she went to school in the town I live in so I thought I would, and then of course Ben won as well.

    “Jackie was on holiday so it was just me, so I thought no more gold medals!”

    Kathleen said she started work on the three figures last Tuesday, 3 August. Each took six to eight hours to make, and as well as working at her two jobs, she managed to finish them by Sunday evening (8 August).

    “The reaction has been huge,” she said. “Beth contacted me on Instagram to say it was amazing and she had to have one, so I said she could have this one. Ben and Max can have theirs too if they want them!”

    Kathleen, who grew up on a stud farm in Ireland and loves horses, said she has basic figure patterns but had to “make the rest up as I went along”, including Ben’s hat, which took a couple of tries.

    And unfortunately, she ran out of time, and space on the post box, to knit Explosion W as well.

    “There’s a pommel horse on it for Max, and I thought one horse would have to do!” she said.

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