Corporate Information

DofE volunteer knits bundles of joy for the Countess

A pastoral school worker is knitting 60 baby hats for the Countess of Chester Hospital’s Neonatal Unit for his Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) Diamond Challenge.

Baby hats

Mike Henshall, who is Head of Moreton House at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, wanted to give something back after welcoming two generations of his family into the world at the hospital.

“My son was born here, my stepson was born here and my grandson was recently born here,” Mike said. “So I felt we had a debt of gratitude. When I decided to do hats I immediately thought about the Countess.”

When Mike’s wife Sonia Henshall was in labour with their son Daniel, who is now 11-years-old, they saw first-hand how dedicated, professional and caring staff on the Neonatal Unit were.

They still have the baby hat that was given to Daniel all those years ago, having kept it as a memento. It was the thought of providing other families with similar comfort that inspired him to pick up knitting needles for the very first time.

“Everyone from the Countess of Chester’s Neonatal Unit would like to say a huge thank you to Mike for knitting these hats and thinking of the hospital when he embarked on his DofE Diamond Challenge,” Belinda Simcock, Senior Neonatal Practitioner, said. “It’s really rewarding to have someone who’s had close links with the unit in the past come back and offer to help like this.”

The Diamond Challenge is an initiative to mark the 60th anniversary of the DofE, with people of all ages being encouraged to leave their comfort zones behind and push themselves.

Nicky Young, DofE Operations Officer in the North of England, who is taking up fly fishing for her own Diamond Challenge, has been impressed by Mike’s efforts.

She said: “Mike has fully embraced the spirit of the Diamond Challenge because he’s chosen to do something he’s never done before so it is a complete challenge. I think he’s inspirational really.”

So far Mike has knitted 35 of the 60 hats he needs to complete his target, gradually cutting down the manufacturing time from four hours to three hours per hat. If you want to know more about his challenge or would like to donate, visit:

Additional information:

DofE Diamond Challenge website: