Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Aussie Hero Quilts and Middle East Area of Operations Centenary of ANZAC Quilt...... is on the road

Time for an update.  Now that the quilt is finished it is time to tell you a little bit more.  I am actually really pleased with how this quilt came together.  

For those who are new to Aussie Heroes in late 2014 the newly arrived Commander of the Middle East Area of Operations, Rear Admiral Trevor Jones AO CSC, RAN, requested Aussie Hero Quilts create a quilt to commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC.   The goal was to create a quilt that was representational of the kind of quilts that the Aussie Hero Quilts (and Laundry Bags) organisation makes for deployed members.

In early January a call went out to the Aussie Heroes volunteers requesting people to register to make a poppy block for the quilt.   These poppy blocks are usually made in November, December and January as a Block of the Month and are sent in to Aussie Heroes to be turned into commemorative quilts that are presented to the families of those who pay the ultimate sacrifice.   


For the Centenary Quilt (CQ) Caroline created a new tutorial and reduced the size to enable more people to contribute.  It was decided that each block should have the same green fabric to create unity across the design but that quilters would choose the red and black materials for the rest of the block.  A suitable green fabric was chosen.  Another Carolyn then came to help me cut and package the fabric up so that it could be sent around the country to all the quilters who wanted to make a block. 



There are 75 poppies included in the quilt, sixty on the front and fifteen on the back.  The quilters who made these blocks come from all walks of life, and from all over the country.  One of them is Katrina, the wife of a Wounded Warrior, SGT Garry Robinson, a commando wounded whilst on duty in Afghanistan in 2010.  You may remember him as our Invictus Warrior.    Several volunteers are spouses of serving members whilst others have children who are serving, some even currently deployed.  Many have family members who have served in WWI, WWII and Vietnam as well as other conflicts.  Just as many of those that made the blocks have absolutely no connection to the military, other than a belief that those that serve do so for the rest of us and need to know that they are appreciated.

As everyone completed their poppy block they were instructed to send it to Michele in Geelong.  Michele has sewn a number of quilts and laundry bags for us and regularly provides embroidered pieces to be included in our quilts.  This time she provided valuable administrative assistance by receiving all the poppy blocks,  recording the name and details of the maker and where possible, collecting the photos of those who contributed.
Once the blocks had been received by Michele they were forwarded on to Lynn in Engadine.  Lynn is an Aussie Heroes stalwart who has completed over 300 quilt tops for us, most of which have been special requests.  Lynn took the poppies, trimmed them to size and then created the quilt top, with the exception of adding the borders.  At that point the quilt top was sent to me so that I could add the appliqued wording and then add the borders to the quilt.

Whilst Lynn was working on the top, or front of the quilt, another group was working on the back.   Rear Admiral Jones had forwarded us samples of the uniforms worn in the Middle East on Operations, including the camouflage uniforms worn by the Navy, Army and Air Force as well as an Air Force flying suit.  These were handed to Gail so that she could deconstruct the uniforms to create usable fabric.



During a working day at my home the backing of the quilt was put together by Evelyn, Dasha, Gail, Rita C and Sue M.   The back is constructed from several components.  There were fifteen poppy blocks that had been saved for incorporation in to the back.  We also needed to have 12 white fabric squares.  



The Aussie Hero Logo was digitised by Cindy Grice and on this occasion she also embroidered the badge for inclusion.  Cindy has been kind enough to donate her time and expertise to digitise a number of the Army badges for use by Aussie Hero Quilters.  The Rising Sun, the Infantry “skippy” badge,  2 Commando Regiment and the Special Air Service Regiment badges are the main ones Cindy has digitised for our use. 



The petit point of the poppies was included to represent the many families of recipients who support Aussie Heroes by sending in donations of fabric, vouchers or money, tea towels for laundry bags or other contributions as they are able.  The poppies were embroidered by Liz who has been supporting us for some time with various donations and large quantities of morale boosting encouragement.    

The appliqued silhouettes all have significance and I stitched them myself.  The red roo is the same silhouette used outside the 7RAR TG Headquarters in Tarin Kowt in 2013.  It is regularly incorporated into our quilts.  

The aircraft is the C130 which has been the work horse of most, if not all, deployments our defence force been involved in for many years.   It also represents all the RAAF personnel involved in current deployments.   




The ship is HMAS Newcastle and represents all the vessels that have deployed and continue to deploy on Operation Manitou, as well as the RAN personnel who are deployed to land-based tasks.  



The silhouette of the soldier is obviously representing all the Army personnel who have and are deployed.  More than that though, the choice of that particular silhouette is significant as the soldier in the photo the silhouette was taken from is SGT Garry Robinson, the 2 Commando Regiment Wounded Warrior who was one of the reasons I founded Aussie Heroes in 2012. 


Once completed the next step was the have the quilting done and this was completed by Stephanie Turner.  Stephanie has quilted well over 150 quilts for Aussie Heroes.  The names of all current operations were stitched into green borders on the side of the quilt as part of the quilting.   Once quilted the quilt was handed to Delore Campbell so that the binding could be attached.   Gail MacQueen then added the rod pocket to enable the quilt to be hung for display purposes and finally the quilt was completed.  

  It would be remiss of me not to add the details of those who contributed some funds to enable us to cover the expenses involved in making this quilt.  They are Sandra, COL M, WO1 M and is wife Cindy and WGCDR P.   COL M, WO1 M and WGCDR P are all recipients who have remained supporters of Aussie Heroes.  Sandra is the mother of a young private who was deployed in 2012.  She has not forgotten how excited and touched her son was to receive his quilt and laundry bag whilst he was deployed to Tarin Kot and had repaid us ever since with regular contributions to Aussie Heroes.  Most recently she collected signatures from Petero Civoniceva to be included in our quilts.

 All in all a total of 93 people contributed to the quilt.  

On Friday the 27th of February I delivered the quilt to Randwick Barracks In its own miniature version of the laundry bags and from there it commenced its journey to Al Minhad Air Base.   

That is all I can tell you for now.  If you are in Al Minhad and happen to see the quilt we would love to know what you think of it.

Till next time................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  
Jan-Maree  xx

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