With National Smile Month just under a month away we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of the great ways people are finding to get involved in the campaign. One such person is Carolyn Whittaker who has taken to knitting to help raise awareness of National Smile Month and the importance of a healthy smile. We took the opportunity to have a chat with Carolyn to hear what inspired her to get involved.

Carolyn Whittaker, 57, and her fantastic knitted display

Pictured above: Carolyn, 57, and her fantastic knitted National Smile Month display

Hello Carolyn thanks for chatting to us, firstly can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?

Hello, my name is Carolyn Whittaker, I'm 57 years old. I was born in Rochdale and grew up in and around the Rochdale area including the villages of Milnrow, Smithy Bridge and Wardle. I stayed around Rochdale until I left when I got married to my husband Roger in 1987. We brought a house in a small village called Walsden on the West Yorkshire border which I have lived in ever since. Sadly I lost Roger to Leukaemia in April 2014 after a year of trying to fight it. We had two beautiful children together, Amy and Christopher, and now have three grandchildren called Olivia-Megan, Harry and Theo.

How were you introduced to knitting and how long have you been knitting for?

I first learnt to knit when I was 9 years old, and crocheting since I was 13 years old. My Mum tried to teach me but didn't really have the patience. In the end a neighbour taught me, and I've knitted ever since. I learnt to crochet at school during an activities lesson. I could always read a knitting pattern but struggled a lot more with a crochet pattern. The abbreviations are different with a crochet pattern you see. However with the help of you tube I taught myself to read a pattern, which now I've mastered.

We understand you made the display at the Knit or Natter group you attend. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

Pictured above: Carolyn's knitted display in all its glory

Most weeks I go to the Knit or Natter group at my local health centre. While there I like to do the displays that go out to help raise awareness of health issues or important causes. I love how everyone enjoys looking at them while at the health centre. I've done a keep fit display, breast screening display, healthy/unhealthy eating display. I had just put a Tour-de-Yorkshire display out when the health centre had to close. I also made a lovely Christmas eve display that goes out every year along with the nativity scene. I just love making things, and coming up with new ideas.

I do have some health issues myself and I have to say this group has helped me a lot. It stops me from becoming isolated and I've met some really nice people who have become good friends. Sadly, I can't go every week as I never know from one day to the next how I'm going to be, so I take it day by day. However, if the health champions want something doing they will ask me, I will make it, and then I get it down to them even if I can't get down myself.

What inspired you to make the display?

Pictured above: A dentist is seeing a patient

I've never got involved in the National Smile Month campaign before, and only came across it when I went online to see what display I could make for June onwards. I thought that it would look great in the Health centre to help promote oral health. I sat down and searched for pictures etc for oral health and came across the dentures and a pattern so worked from the basic pattern then added my own twist to them. The dentist’s chair I made just from a picture, it’s surprising what you can do with a box and some wool! I do improvise with lots of things, I use bottles, bottle tops, straws, anything that I think I can use to make things with.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about the National Smile Month campaign?

I think that the best thing about the campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of good oral health from a young age. It’s important to show the importance of cleaning your teeth and what happens if you don't look after them. I think by me making these fun things for everyone to look at takes the scariness away from going to the dentist and if it helps somebody then that’s amazing.

Finally, what advice would you give to somebody who is thinking of getting involved in the campaign but doesn’t know where to start?

I would say whatever you’re doing for the campaign work hard and play hard to get your point across, everything doesn't have to be serious. Have fun with it and other people will too!

For more information about our National Smile Month campaign and how you can get involved head to www.smilemonth.org! Alternatively, if you are already planning on getting involved then we'd love to hear from you, please get in touch with our PR Team by emailing [email protected].