The Oldest Man in Australia Spends His Final Years Knitting Sweaters For Injured Penguins
Unselfish acts of kindness are a trait that, as sensible humans, we need to encourage more. Albert Date knew this, the then-oldest man in Australia was a kind and giving man who enjoyed life like no other, and making others happy was also one of his joys.
Read on to unravel the curious activity he decided to spend his last years of life on.
Who Is Albert Date
Albert Date was 109 years old when his carer approached him with an unusual request. They asked him if he was willing to knit some things. He was taken aback; at the time, he was the oldest man in Australia, and they were asking him to knit, yet he hadn’t done it in ages.
But when his carer explained why, he simply couldn’t refuse. As someone that was always looking to do good, he knew this would be an action that would help those less fortunate.
Albert learned to knit in 1932 when he helped his sister knit a sweater for his nephew. Now, he wouldn’t be knitting for babies but for penguins! So when he was settling into his new care home in New South Wales, his carers introduced him to Knits For Nature, a program devoted to wildlife conservation.
He had only been in the home for around 12 hours when they were already persuading him to join the program. He was immediately motivated and got to work almost immediately.
Jumpers For Penguins
In 2001 there was a massive oil spill on the coast of Australia, which widely affected the region’s wildlife, especially penguins. However, thanks to the Phillip Island Penguin Foundation’s efforts, they took care of over 400 injured penguins and other animals in the area.
Nowadays, the penguins are in safe hands, and the foundation collects money to protect native wildlife and the environment through collective grassroots and government efforts. They also have education, research, and conservation programs, including Knits for Nature.
Knits for Nature
The Knits for Nature program is a rehabilitation project for penguins affected by oil spills. The jumpers help as a barrier between the oil and the penguin’s feathers, preventing them from eating the potentially toxic crude. But unfortunately, the oil can also damage their skin and make it difficult to swim. Hence the need for protective sweaters.
With the jumpers on, the staff can wash the penguins before they are exposed to the oil. They had to launch a nationwide campaign to source the number of jumpers needed.
When the nurses at Albert’s care home learned about the Knits For Nature campaign, they knew it would be a treat for the residents, especially Albert, who had told them about his skill. But, when they told him, he couldn’t believe that they thought he was suited for the task.
He was surprised but flattered, and when the nurses brought him all the yarn and needles he needed, he immediately got to work. His creative designs were a breath of fresh air.
The Foundation Was Flattered
At first, the foundation didn’t know who was making the beautiful sweaters they were receiving. But the nurses at Albert’s care home made sure to make it known that the oldest living man in Australia was knitting the jumpers.
When a reporter asked why he did it, he answered, “The girls who used to work for me, they’ll tell you I’m a sucker. I can’t say no. It’s a good way of getting along in life. You make friends all the time, but you don’t make a fool of yourself either.”
Albert’s Knits Were Beautiful
When Albert started sending his finished products, everyone in the care home was in awe, but he was a perfectionist and always tried to improve himself. He claimed never to be able to say no to helping those in need, and the penguins needed him.
When asked about his sweaters, he said, “I like to make them without mistakes, and I don’t excuse myself for doing it. I think there is an excuse for a person who’s gone beyond the normal span of life.”
The Most Senior Little Penguin Knitter
The foundation couldn’t believe that the oldest man in Australia was knitting the beautiful and high-quality jumpers they were receiving, so they decided to return the favor by awarding Albert with the title of “Most senior little penguin knitter.”
The program was incredibly successful and gained a lot of attention from the public, people were donating very nice knits, but few were fit for penguins. So whenever someone showed interest in knitting for the cause, the foundation sent them the pattern, and then they had to send the finished product.
When the foundation reached its goal of penguin jumpers and closed submissions, Albert continued knitting, but now he focused on other charities, especially for premature babies in hospitals.
Unfortunately, Albert passed away in 2016, but his legacy of kindness will continue forever as a selfless and kind man that was always reaching out to help whoever was in need, whether it was human or not. And we’re pretty sure that if the penguins could thank him for his efforts, they would.