Sunday, 15 December 2013

A True Blue Tribute to our Troops!

Time for another story .............. or two 

Way back when we did strips of appliqued aussie words for a block of the month Liz J contacted me and said she was thinking of doing the phrase "Hey True Blue" and did I think there would be any problem with copyright as that was the name of one of John Williamson's songs.   I assured Liz that there would be no problem and before long the strip was sent to me and, along with other strips it was pieced into a quilt top by Rita C at a sewing day at my home.  I sent it off to Donna S to be quilted and when it came back it just really struck me as being something special.

I don't have a conduit to many celebrities, star or persons of note, but I am blessed that one of my friends, Gordon, is actually well known to John Williamson.  He had already told John about Aussie Heroes and so I asked him if he thought John would be amenable to signing the quilt in question.  Gordon had no doubt that John would be happy to help out so he approached him and before long I had my answer, a resounding "yes".  

Gordon asked if I had a recipient in mind as he said that it would be good if I could tell John a little about them.  So, I set about finding a John Williamson fan.  I was expecting to have to send a few emails but I sent off one email to Tarin Kot.....

I have a funny one for you.  I have a special quilt coming up.
I am emailing you first to see if you know anyone who would appreciate a quilt with a JOHN WILLIAMSON touch.  I know you may not be able to get back to me straight away, as this sort of research might take a bit, but if you can’t find anyone by the end of the weekend can you let me know and I will try a different area. 

I am always very aware that the troops are working long hours and have more to do than worry about requests from me so you can imagine my delight when almost straight away the following response came back to me

It is funny you have asked. I have a  fellow in location with me at the moment who is a big John Williamson fan. He would certainly be my first choice for such a gift.

So we had our recipient and I asked for some info so that I could brief John.  His boss told me some lovely things about his - a country boy at heart, a larrikan, an all round good bloke.  Who could be more perfect for a quilt signed by another all round good Aussie bloke?  Perfect.

I handed the quilt to Gordon and he waited for a chance to catch up with John.  There was a delay of a couple of months before Gordon could pass the quilt to John for signing but as it turned out that worked to our advantage and I was able to get a second quilt signed as well but that story comes later.



Eventually this quilt was signed and handed back to me and I was able to send it off on the 19th of August.

Talk about bad timing.  I sent it off to Petty Officer X but by the time he received it our recipient had gone off on leave.  By the time the recipient had returned from leave, PO X had disappeared on leave having stowed the quilt "somewhere safe".  Doh!  by the time that PO X returned from leave the pace had picked up somewhat and it took a little while before the photos and a report of how things had gone came back to me.  

Finally I received the pictures.


Er what's this?


I dunno mate! You better open it!


Oh look!  An Aussie Hero Sticker!  Woo Hoo!


WOW!  An Aussie Hero business card!



And the crowd goes wild




Oh nice blue!


And I can only assume that they were so overwhelmed with emotion and excitement that they missed the moment that he saw it was signed by John Williamson!  Doh!

But I did get this message from PO X

Jono got his and was over the moon.  
You can't get the smile off Jono's face.  He absolutely loves it!
Thanks again Jan-Maree, the effort that you and the ladies put in to these blankets and laundry bags is astounding, and is appreciated by each and every person that receives them.



You can't beat a thumbs up!!!

So what about the second quilt I hear you ask!

Well I think this is an even bigger story.

Whilst I was waiting for the first quilt to be signed I received another request for a quilt 

Hi how are you? My partner is in afghan and I was wondering if it was possible to get a quilt and laundry bag for him.   I am not sure what I want on it so I thought I could tell u a bit about us and get a surprise.

We both met in the army and were friends for 3 years and fell love. He proposed to me on the Hawksbury river to John Williamson "Hawksbury River Loving".  We have a black dog called Moe and are getting married in 2015 and having our honeymoon on Gallipoli cruise for the 100th anniversary.   

I miss him so much already :(  I was hoping to get him a quilt that shows my love to him and to give him something to look forward to in the future.

Thank you so very much! 

Well, I ask you!  What else could I do?  When Gordon called me and said there would be a delay in getting the first quilt signed I said "No problem, do you think John will sign two?"  
"I am sure he won't mind" said Gordon.

Now this quilt had to be made from scratch.  I really wanted to do it myself (as I do with a lot of requests) but just knew I did not have time to do it justice so I turned to Liz B.   As soon as I told Liz the story she had a picture in her mind and she agreed to take it on.  I arranged for Michele from Geelong (I know Michele, not Melbourne) to embroider the verse of the song on the the blue fabric and that was sent up to Liz B.  Liz set to work creating the picture in her mind; a branch of a gum tree hanging over the river with a black dog on the shore.  Perfect!

There was no time to get the quilt completed before it was sent to John so it was still a half constructed top when John signed it and then off it went back up to Liz for completion.  It headed off to Tarin Kot on the 3rd of September.  





I had a bit more luck with this one.  This fellow's Executive Officer was actually one of my contacts in Tarin Kot and I emailed him and arranged to send the quilt to him.  

The day the quilt arrived was a big mail day.  Dozens of bags arrived but most important was the fact that the one I was most interested in arrived safe and sound.

I was told that all the quilts that arrived that day were unfolded and examined and they were all declared beautiful but the one signed by John was pronounced spectacular!

That afternoon/evening a couple of the hierarchy of the unit visited our unsuspecting recipient in his room and delivered his quilt to him.

It wasn't long till I heard from him.

I am writing to give a huge thank you to Jan and Liz and everyone else who helped send me this wonderful gift. I was blown away with how much detail was in the quilt and the meaning it has to me and my fiance. It will always be cherished in our home and especially during this deployment as it is leading up to the colder months. I hope this finds everybody doing well and please keep up the good work, the boys love receiving them as much as I did.

I wrote back to him and told him that I was going to go to a John Williamson show in a few days and said I would be able to pass on his thanks and he wrote back to me again.

Side note - on the day that John signed this quilt he told Gordon that he recognised the name. It seems our recipient's fiance had, that very week, written to John and asked for a signed copy of John's latest CD.  He obliged and the CD dispatched.  It arrived the same day that the quilt arrived.  It had made his day.  Now read what he wrote to me in his second email.

Thanks again and lucky you He is a great Aussie and a great musician. I am educating the younger diggers in his music; playing his CD around the clock is doing the trick.  They are being forced to love it.  :-)  They are all amazed at the quilt as many were not aware of you guys, but I get visits all the time from all ranks; people I don't even know so they can see it.  Enjoy his show and tell him I said G'day.


These photos were taken at the edge of the base. 
The desert in the background is what they saw almost everywhere. 


In addition to signing the quilts, John had given each of the fellows one of his flags.  



This one was hung at the entrance of the improvised vehicle yard, where our recipient kept his vehicle.


The flag will fly there till the end of the mission.


After a few days I received another email from our recipient.

Gday Jan

How are you going there?
I am a little embarrassed because I just found your letter.   I over looked it when I received the quilt (A little excited) Anyway I think the story about getting the quilt made is amazing and humbling.  I am really impressed and I feel it will be a story that will stick to me for the rest of my life.  Again thank you very much and everyone here loves your organization.

Big thanks to Liz B, Liz J, Rita, Donna, Michele and all the other Aussie Hero Friends who had a hand in these quilts, to Gordon for being the go between and especially a big, big thanks to John Williamson.

That is the last special story that I have for you for this year.
Who knows what quilts and story opportunities will present themselves next year.  

Don't forget we are now heading into the Christmas Holiday Break - or at least I am .....a little.  After blogging six days a week all year it is time for me to take things just a little easier just for a few weeks.  
The blog will only be published MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY for the next few weeks.  I will let you know when it goes back to six days.  I have some thing special planned for Christmas Eve so stand by for that.  I will still be answering emails, allocating quilts and of course, and especially, SEWING!!!!! but just not blogging as much.  
That makes a big difference, believe me.  

I will be back tomorrow night (cause it is Monday!) 

Till next time................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  JMxx


6 comments:

  1. That is a bit of a sand in the eyes story, Jan-Maree.

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  2. I can never thank you all enough for this it has made this trip memorable adding a true blue story to go with my deployment.

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    1. Thank you for all you are doing for all of us Greg, it's an honour to all of us Friends of AHQ to be able to touch your lives, and show our appreciation for your service. How lovely that your quilt was signed by John Williamson, I am so jealous! Hugs and I wish you and your fiance a long and happy life together once you tie the knot in 2015

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  3. wonderful, magical, superb, Love it!

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  4. Sand storm at Green Point this morning ;-) Love your stories JM

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