A CRAFTY crocheter who left handmade gifts around Royal Bolton Hospital has been unmasked.

Kind-hearted Shirley Bannister, 63, created over 300 gifts and has been leaving them around the hospital and other locations to bring a smile to those most in need.

For months Shirley's identity remained a secret, until she was rumbled when she was offered one of the gifts by a nurse.

Shirley, who has been receiving treatment for breast cancer on the hospital's Evergreen ward, said: “For quite a while I’ve been making items for my community. I make these Buddy Bags that are hand crocheted and have a toy inside for terminally ill children.

“Then I found this group on Facebook called Random Acts of Crochet Kindness which is all about leaving them anonymously to uplift people."

Shirley, who is a funeral arranger, has been working hard to leave loving surprises for strangers. As well as the hospital she also places her crafts in privets and at the post office.

The hospital was added as one of her gift locations after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in November.

Although she is now cancer free, she takes some of her small crochet gifts with her to each appointment, leaving them in and around the unit.

She said: “I’d see people pick them up and have a big smile on their face and put them in their pocket.

“It’s nice being able to give something. One nurse told me her daughter was waiting for a heart transplant and she found one of the gifts outside the unit on a really tough day and she said that she couldn’t say enough about the impact that had on her.

“When they found out it was me about six to eight nurses came into my treatment room with some flowers for me – I was in tears, it was so unexpected.”