Lady Anne Tree, 82, Introduced Needlepoint to Prisoners

Lady Ann Tree, who died on August 9th, was a tireless advocate for incarcerated persons in Britain’s prison system. She is perhaps best remembered for innovating the very successful program “Fine Cell Work“, where prisoners create needlepoint works which are then sold to the public.

Lady Anne cited two reasons for focusing on needlepoint in her campaign. Her mother-in-law, Nancy Lancaster, owned the interior designers Colefax and Fowler, so “I had the possibility to sell good-quality needlework for good prices through shops.” She was also convinced that sewing was therapeutic: “It is meditative, a way of thinking, of taking stock.”

After a few years, Fine Cell Work was grossing £200,000 in sales. Today more than 60 volunteers train 400 prisoners, and prison systems in other countries have expressed interest in starting similar programs.

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