All posts by Emma Harris

Yellow Duck Day 2017: Part 1

It’s finally here! Yellow Duck Day 2017!

Yellow Duck Day is marked annually on April 15th, the date that the Little Yellow Duck Project was launched back in 2014. This date was chosen as it marked a year to the day that I lost my best friend (and my son’s godmother), Clare Cruickshank.

Clare with her godson, Teddy

As many of you will already know, Clare was in desperate need of a double lung transplant due to end-stage cystic fibrosis. At just 26 years of age, Clare ran out of time due to the chronic shortage of donor organs in the UK.  Clare had decided beforehand, that she would want to be a donor if she didn’t make it.  As a result her corneas were donated to restore sight to two young adults in their twenties.

Clare was crazy about little yellow ducks and collected them in all shapes and sizes. It was an example of the sweet, amusing and fun-loving person that she was.  No one could feel sad or downhearted when Clare was around! So they seemed perfect to be used as an emblem for spreading happiness around the world, as well as awareness of how we can all save lives through the gifts of blood, bone marrow/stem cell, organ and tissue donation.

Clare had an incredibly pragmatic attitude to organ donation. She once summed the situation up so simply to me when we were discussing people choosing to be organ donors…

“If you’ve got a pair of shoes that you don’t need anymore, you take them to a charity shop don’t you? Then someone else can use them. What’s the difference with passing on your organs?”

If we all thought more like this, people like Clare would still be with us today.  Thanks to this attitude, Clare’s corneas went on to give sight to two other people when she no longer needed them. What an amazing legacy for such a beautiful person to leave behind.  And now, through the Little Yellow Duck Project, more people will hopefully do the same.

Today has been a huge success in spreading awareness of the project and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped make it happen. I’ll be updating on everything achieved in my next post. But don’t forget, the Little Yellow Duck Project runs 365 days a year, so please keep making those ducks and passing on their life-saving messages!



Easter Duck Bunnies!

It’s all about ducks with ears this Easter at the Little Yellow Duck Project…aren’t they cute?!

Suzy Compton Yellow Duck with Ears
If you would like to knit your own duck bunny, check out the fabulous bunny ears accessories that our designer, Suzy Compton, has created! Suzy’s Yellow Duck pattern, designed exclusively for the Little Yellow Duck Project in 2014, now comes with patterns for knitted ears and knitted duck feet!
Yellow Easter Ducks by Suzy Compton

If you’re releasing ducks this Easter, please share your photos with us on our Facebook Page…we love seeing what all our volunteers are up to!






Country 94 Joins the Map!

We are now less than a week away from Yellow Duck Day 2017 – the day we mark the anniversary of the project’s launch. I vividly remember that day back in April 2014 when I anxiously checked my emails, desperately hoping that a duck would be reported as found somewhere in the world. When that first email came in (from Stockton-on-Tees, UK) it was a moment of huge celebration.

Then came the next challenge….to get a duck reported from outside the UK! Within 24 hours that challenge had been met with a duck reported from the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands and the next target was set…to get a duck reported from outside Europe!

We had to wait 9 days for that moment to occur (with a report from Indiana, USA) and from then on the numbers of countries and continents began to grow. Incredibly, with the first year of the project’s launch we had received duck reports from every single continent in the world (including Antarctica!) and from 61 different countries.

Some of the ducks that have been reported found in Antarctica

Obviously after that, the numbers of new countries being added to the map began to slow down somewhat, but that only serves to make the occasions when it does occur all the sweeter.

World map showing locations of ducks reported (April 2017)

So this morning, you can imagine my elation when I switched on the computer and saw that Jordan – country 94 – was to join the map! This was all thanks to one of our most diligent knitting volunteers, Terry Walters, who has now knitted over 700 ducks for us….yes, that’s over 700!!

Terry’s ducks ready to fly to Jordan

Terry’s sister, Lesley, was off on holiday to Jordan, so Terry ensured she went armed with a little band of ducks to leave for others to find, and in the hopes that at least one might get reported back to us. Sure enough, this morning it did! Bob the duck was found at the Monastery (Ad-Deir), one of the legendary monuments of Petra, an ancient city dating back to the 1st Century BC that was named as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World in 2007.

Bob where he was left at Petra Monastery
Petra Monastery, Jordan

Here’s hoping that before too long, country 95 will join the map! Which one will it be?! If you can help us spread these little ducks around the world we would love you to get involved. Each one can spread some sunshine and happiness and – with any luck – perhaps even go on to save a life by encouraging someone to consider becoming a blood, bone marrow or organ donor. Let’s keep the yellow ducks flying!

Yellow Duck Day 2017!

It’s hard to believe that we are now JUST ONE WEEK away from…

Each year we celebrate this day to mark the anniversary of the project’s launch. This year we are celebrating our 3rd Birthday!

Wherever you are in the world, please help us make Yellow Duck Day 2017 the best yet.  Here are some of the ways you can help us make a difference on April 15th 2017:

We can’t wait to share all the photos of Yellow Duck Day 2017 with you all.  Let’s make it one to remember!



Machine Embroidery Patterns

I’m delighted to be able to announce the launch of our new machine embroidery patterns! These can be used to create an adorable little yellow duck and a selection of bookmarks (great for leaving in libraries!) and keyfobs (ideal for geocaches and other small places).

Thank you so much to Sue and to all our other designers who have created the patterns for the Little Yellow Duck Project. Without them we could not do what we do to bring smiles, raise awareness and save lives!

St Patrick’s Day 2017

Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone! Check out these amazing themed ducks that some of our members made for this special day…aren’t they incredible?!


Of course every single duck made for the project is special to us and special to those who find them…and extra special to the people whose lives get saved through blood, organ/tissue and stem cell donation as a result of increased awareness. But it’s lovely to see the way that some of our wonderful volunteers like to adapt their ducks to suit different themes throughout the year.

The day was marked on social media by plenty of awareness about the value of life-saving donations. Here’s a couple that caught our eye :



Pirates and Treasure Chests!

Pirate ducks found in geocaches worldwide
Pirate ducks found in geocaches worldwide

My little boy is crazy about pirates at the moment….and even more crazy about treasure hunts. So you can imagine how excited he was to hear about all the pirate ducks that have been travelling the world and hiding in real life treasure chests as part of the phenomenon of ‘geocaching’.

So what is geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices such as mobile phones. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the cache (container) hidden at that location. Each cache contains a log book or log sheet where you can sign your name and larger ones often contain a variety of small gifts. The custom is that if you take something, you leave a gift yourself for someone else and then carefully replace the cache where you found it. You can find more information on geocaching and how to get involved HERE.

Ben's PeeBats Duck in Geocache
Photo sent in to us by the finder of a geocached duck
Geocaching Ducks by JaneL2008B - not sure when taken
Duck and log sheet found inside a geocache

One of our awesome members, Jane , is a big fan of both knitting and geocaching and has now hidden around 100 little ducks in caches around the UK. Obviously the items need to be small so Jane likes to make duck keyrings using the pattern by Shaz Peacock on our website and then attaches one of our tags to them. These are logged on the world map as “Ben’s Peebats”. For smaller caches she leaves tiny plastic yellow duck keyrings instead which are logged as “Pirate Peebats”.

Geocaching Ducks by JaneL2008 - not sure when taken
Some of Jane’s “Ben’s Peebats” keyrings
Tiny plastic keyrings
Some of Jane’s tiny “Pirate Peebats” keyrings, including Rincewind who has travelled the world!

“Geocaching is a real world treasure hunt.  It’s great, free, exercise and you get to visit some lovely places you didn’t know existed” says Jane.

“The lovely thing about leaving the ducks in geocaches is you never know when or where one will turn up on the map. Pirate Rincewind keeps appearing all over the place. In 2015 he travelled around Wales, England and Holland before ending up in Texas earlier this year. I know it’s mine because I can track him through the geocache site. I’ve seen the knitted ducks in use as bag charms and it always raises a smile.”

Piratemania3 2015 by JaneL2008
Jane’s pirate-themed ducks for Piratemania 2015

Last July Jane took part in Piratemania – England’s biggest annual geocaching event – which was being held in the Peak District. She made numerous pirate ducks which she left out in the open all around Bakewell, where the event was being held, with the LYD Project tags attached. Jane has made the instructions on how to make pirate eye-patches and neckerchiefs available online for those who would like to make their own versions.

Have you ever found one of Jane’s ducks? Are you one of our other members who likes to hide ducks in geocaches? Do you fancy giving geocaching a go? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!





6 New Countries*!

6 new countries in 3 monthsB

It’s been really exciting watching the duck reports coming in over the last few weeks as we seem to be notching up new countries on the map faster than ever.

We are now up to reports of ducks in 87 countries* worldwide with an estimated 20,000 of these little life-saving ducks passing on their life-saving message around the world!

Click on the map below to view the map and a full list of locations:Duck Map 31.3.16The latest countries* added are as follows:

  • Kabul, Afghanistan – 22.12.15
  • FalklandIslands – 4.1.16
  • Barbados – 27.2.16
  • Albania – 7.3.16
  • Borneo, Malaysia – 26.3.16
  • Rio de Janeiro – 26.3.16

Another report in today also put the first duck on the map in mainland Chile (Easter Island, part of Chile, joined the map some time ago).

Please keep helping us to spread the lifesaving message about the importance of blood, bone marrow and organ/tissue donation around the world!

* We have included dependencies, territories and autonomous regions in this term


Our Heartfelt Thanks



Meet Katie (above), one of our awesome supporters!  Katie has been has registered as a blood and bone marrow donor since finding out about the Little Yellow Duck Project in 2014.

Katie also told her Mum, Jenny, all about the project and Jenny became a big supporter of ours too, kindly making ducks to help spread the message of the life-saving gifts that donors can give.  Just a few weeks ago, Jenny found herself in need of multiple life-saving blood transfusions and today Katie has sent across a very personal message of thanks to all of our thousands of duck-makers across the world…

This is a message to all of you wonderful maker of ducks about one of your own, my mum, Jenny.  This is also a message to all of you awesome finders of ducks who read the tag, went to the website and took up the challenge to become a donor.


Mum was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly before Christmas 2015. We were relatively lucky, it was operable.  Her tumour blocked the bile duct from her liver giving her a striking yellow hue, so we had that Christmas with our very own Minion!  Wait, I should have said our very own Little Yellow Duck.  Yes, that’s better!!!

Suzy Compton2

They did whatever they did to temporarily unblock the duct, return her to flesh coloured and allow her liver to recover some before the ‘big’ op.  She had the big op about 2 weeks ago.  In a bid to win a prize for the fastest weight reduction programme they removed:

  1. The tumour (hurrah!)
  2. Some lymph nodes
  3. Her Gall Bladder
  4. Half of her Pancreas
  5. Most of the bile duct
  6. Her duodenum – had to google that one, it’s part of the small intestine

The surgery took a time-warping 9 hours due, in part, to the discovery of a “never-before-seen” arrangement of blood vessels – but then we always knew she as special!!!  Her recovery was remarkable – she was on her feet the next day!  She also dealt with 2 infections and a leak in her new internal plumbing with remarkable resilience.  She was nearly home.


Then, Day 12 post-op and, thankfully, just before discharge, she had a massive internal bleed.  This is where you, the army of little yellow duckers, come in and thank goodness for you ALL.  In a 6 hour op, she had her entire blood volume replaced – as well as, to continue the weight loss plan, the rest of her pancreas and her spleen removed.  Things were very dicey and we are still most definitely in the woods. BUT, the day after surgery she was awake and talking.  She has been sleepy since but we had that day with her.  That is a whole day we would not have had without blood donation, without the ducks.  

Super Hero ducks by Tina Thomas
We hope for more but in the midst of the trauma of illness, having one day should not be underestimated, it is everything.

Internally, she is literally half the woman she was, in spirit, however, she is indomitable.  Please take a moment to hear our heart-felt thanks and then … get ducking!!!!!!!!!

Katie x


Everyone at the LYD Project is keeping Jenny close in their thoughts and sending her their love and positive wishes.  Stories like these are daily reminders that every single blood donor really is a life-saver. Thank you to each and every one of them and also to all our wonderful volunteers to keep encouraging people to think about the part they can play in saving the lives of others.


5,000 Ducks on the Map!

The title says it all….we made it to 5,000 ducks on the map this week!


Even more excitingly, this means that there are likely to be around 25,000 of these life-saving little fellas around the globe (since we estimate that only 20% are logged on the website)!


Talking of around the globe…the ducks have been reported from an incredible 78 countries worldwide so far.


Want to see what that looks like? Check out this photo:

5000 Duck Map October 2015

Well that’s lovely, but why does all this matter so much?

Time for some more sobering statistics….

Because this number of adults and children are waiting and hoping for a bone marrow transplant to save their lives:

37,000 bone marrow donors needed

And well over this number of adults and children are waiting and hoping for an organ transplant to save their lives:


And let’s not forget that this number of blood donations that are needed every year just to keep up with current supply:

108 million

Makes you think doesn’t it?

5,000 ducks on a map may seem like a drop in the ocean compared to this massive level of need.  But every drop makes a difference. And these ducks are too.


Here are a few of the messages that have been received in recent weeks from those who have found ducks:

“We’re already listed as organ donors, however Quackers has prompted us to also get catagorised and listed for stem cell donation.”

“The Brazilians are knowing to be a very good helpers and I will start this project in my country which has more than 200 million of people. I will donate blood as soon as I can and organs”

“Since looking at the website me and my partner have both decided to start donating blood (already signed up for organ donation) so wanted to let you know the project works. ”

So a huge ‘thank you’ to every single person who has made a duck in the last 18 months and here’s to the next 5,000 on the map.  Please keep going, keep talking about this issue with your friends and please keep registering to donate.

Together, we are making a difference.

Margaret Mead Quote