Patriotic Ali Aldridge has set a record and knitted the world’s biggest Union Jack in tribute to her hero nephew – who is the youngest soldier to have died in Afghanistan.
Ali, 41, began creating the mammoth 13ft by 9ft flag after Rifleman Will Aldridge, 18, was killed in an ambush in Helmand Province last year.
The red, white, and blue behemoth – made up of 736 squares knitted by 50 volunteers – took five months to complete.
It is now on tour with an exhibition of patriotic knitting and will be sold to raise funds for Afghan Heroes, a charity set up by Rifleman Aldridge’s mother.
Mother-of-three Ali, from Kingswood, Bristol, said: ”Even at a young age he had such a strength of character and he knew he wanted to be in the Army.
”This is a tribute to him, to help his comrades. He loved his army life, although it was very, very short, and I want to carry on for him, to raise funds in his memory for his comrades.
”I started working on the flag in September, a couple of months after Will died.
”I got the project up and running and appealed for people to knit squares across the country by posting on knitting forums, asking in knitting shops, and so on.
”I am extremely proud of it. Lots of people have worked very, very hard to create it.”
Rifleman Aldridge, from Bromyard, Herefordshire, joined the 2nd Battalion of Rifles aged just 17 and deployed to Afghanistan on May 26th – only three days after his 18th birthday.
He died a hero seven weeks later while trying to rescue colleagues after an explosion hit their patrol.
Rifleman Aldridge became the youngest soldier to die in the conflict when he and four others were killed when a second explosion hit the group.
The giant Union Jack is composed of 736 individual squares knit in red, white and blue that are stitched together to form the overall pattern.
Ali spent more than 200 hours stitching the pieces of the knitted masterpiece together as a tribute to his memory.
The flag will now go on tour to raise money for Afghan Heroes, the charity set up by Will’s mother along with mothers of other soldiers who have died in the war.
The first stop on the tour will be Rifleman Aldridge’s hometown in Herefordshire on June 25th, Armed Forces Day.
The flag will then move on to the civic centre in Wootton Bassett where it will be displayed on July 10th – the first anniversary of Rifleman Aldridge’s death.
Ali added: ”I wanted to do something where people could contribute and I wanted it to be patriotic.
”There was about 50 people from all over the country contributing their time and effort to knitting squares.
”It took me more than 200 hours, over a couple of months, just to stitch the pieces together.
”I did a lot of research to find out if there was any world record for a flag as big as this and there wasn’t, so I am hopeful that we have set the record for the world’s largest knitted flag.”
A spokesperson for Guinness World Records confirmed there was no current record for the largest knitted flag and it was considering Ali’s application.