Origami Cranes charity

Miss Whisky’s 1,000 paper cranes bring hope to Twickenham’s needy

Over 1,000 origami cranes were folded by a whisky expert in Twickenham this summer raising £2,370 for the homeless.

Alwynne Gwilt, 35, of St Margarets, undertook a challenge to fold 1,000 cranes during lockdown to raise money for homeless charity Under One Sky.

Gwilt, known professionally as Miss Whisky, described the process as meditative and eventually didn’t even need to look at the paper while folding.

She got her average time per crane down from four minutes to a lightning-fast 30-40 seconds.

Gwilt was inspired by the work of Under One Sky during lockdown when it fed around 250 homeless people each day in London.

She said: “It was about real human connection at a time when people were a bit scared by human connection.

“When the pandemic hit people stopped talking to each other face to face.”

MISSION COMPLETE: Gwilt raises a dram to her flock of cranes

The cranes will now be flown off around Twickenham to care homes, children’s cancer wards, and the homeless.

Gwilt is devising Covid-19-friendly packages that can be posted without flattening the origami, which will have to go through a short period of isolation when they arrive.

Although she will be taking an origami break for a while, she has purchased a few books and said she will definitely be going back to it in the future.

When not making origami the Canadian-born whisky lover works as the Brand Ambassador for The Balvenie, a Speyside scotch whisky distillery.

Her employer William Grant & Sons double match funded her efforts, taking her £790 up to £2,370.

Gwilt said that while lockdown slammed the brakes on her fast-paced job, it also allowed her to reflect upon the things she missed doing.

She said: “For lots of people with the start of lockdown there was time for contemplation – I used to volunteer for Marie Curie and I miss that part of life.”

Under One Sky Founder Mikkel Juel Iversen said the contribution will enable the charity to provide several hundred homeless people with food, hot drinks, toiletries and essential clothing.

Iversen said: “Initiatives like this one by Alwynne and William Grant & Sons are vital to us.”

Gwilt learned about Japanese folk law at school and was immediately inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki.

Sasaki survived Hiroshima aged two but passed away from Leukaemia aged 12, while undertaking her own crane-folding project.

She has a statue in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park that is covered in cranes each year on Obon day.

Obon is a Japanese Buddhist festival that honours ancestral spirits, and coincided this year with the day Gwilt’s mother sadly passed away from cancer, 22 years ago.

Gwilt’s challenge was completed on 15 August, in time with the end of Obon Week.

She said: “In these great times of uncertainty, I felt the paper crane was a wonderful symbol of hope.”

Cranes are now folded all over the world and it is believed that after completing all 1,000 you will be granted your true wish.

You can read more about her fundraising efforts on her GoFundMe page.

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