Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Grati-Tuesday 28 April

G'day all.  Lots of lovely emails and messages today. 

First up a photo of one of Lynn's quilt (quilted by Robin) being put to good use.


Dear Joan & Robin,

Thank you so much for the laundry bag with the sailing boats. Whilst it is not the beach bag your refer to in your note it is perfect, I happen to love sailing as well! It is the perfect size and has added some much needed colour to my otherwise drab surroundings. Thank you kindly for your thoughts and the unconditional support you and Aussie Hero Quilts provide for our personal welfare. It is truly heartening to be thought of this way.
All the very best cheers
.....



Thank you 
Hi Pennie, I just typed a letter for you and was ready to post when I realised you had your email on your letter so figured that would be alot easier and quicker (has been taking 4 or more weeks for mail to get home) for me to send. So here it is...

Dear Pennie,

Thank you so much for your package and laundry bag. It’s a lovely gesture and very much appreciated. It will most definitely come in handy.

I am mission crew member on the Wedgetail aircraft  (you may have to google to see what that is) and therefore do a fair bit of travel including this deployment. I have less then a month to go and once home would have been away for about 4 and a half months. This is the shortest of the 3 deployments I have done, the previous 2 in Afghanistan. Each have had there ups and downs as you would expect from being away from normal life and friends and family. I have been in the Air Force just over 10 years which has gone very quick. At this stage I plan to stay around a bit longer. Its always nice to hear the appreciation people give for serving as there has definitely been some sacrifices in my life along to way to do this job.

I live in Newcastle with my partner living an hour and a half north in Forster. So I travel a bit up and down the coast so am therefore missing the beach and coastal life a lot. And a good coffee.

I imagine your job keeps you extremely busy and I will say that you are much more of a hero then me. Saving lives most days deserves huge respect.

Well I must be off as I have some work to do 

Thanks again so much. Take Care
.....


Good afternoon Stephanie D,

I have recently come into possession of an amazing laundry bag made by you. So firstly: thank you for the time and effort you have obviously spent in making it, you have made my deployment that much easier.

The background story to my acquisition is unremarkable but somewhat humorous. Before departing on deployment I had searched the local department stores for a suitable laundry bag, knowing full well that not having a distinguishable one could mean losing my clothes due to mistaken identity of a bag. However my search was unsuccessful; decent laundry bags proved to be a rare commodity. As such, I arrived in the Middle East a little over a week ago with no laundry bag. 
Up until today I have been shuttling my dirty clothes to the laundry in a white plastic bin bag. As you can imagine this wasn't ideal, so I asked around as to whether anyone had a spare laundry bag. To my surprise, a friend of mine told me he had one that he had received a little while ago but no longer required due to soon leaving for home. It turned out to be your bag.

This particular bag is the centre of much envy from fellow soldiers due to the collage of images on it. At the bottom it has hundreds of what appear to be Cuban cigars. This is broken up by a brown, dotted strip, prior to a top half which shows a wooden book case with lots of old books and even a duck. I have inserted a photo of it below. I am not exaggerating when I say it is impressive! I am quite proud of it, and now do not fear that my clothes will fall out of a hole in a plastic bag on the way to the laundry.

A million thanks once again for this laundry bag. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. It will be put to good use on this deployment, and I intend to keep it for future ones to come should no one need it at the end of this current trip.

Sincerely

.....

Hello there,

I am a Warrant Officer in the Air Force, currently serving overseas with the UN as part of the mission in South Sudan.

I have a wife and two sons who are residing in Townsville and have served in the military for 25 years, today.....as a matter of fact, so excellent timing with the gift. 😉

I would sincerely like to thank you for the laundry bag I received today ( had sharks and octopus and jellyfish)...a design, by pure chance I would imagine, but I absolutely love the mysteries the ocean has so the design suits me perfectly.

It's so special to receive something like this and it is comforting to know that people other than direct family and friends are thinking about my brothers and sisters that are currently on operations overseas.

Thank you again and God Bless you and the work you do.

Regards,
.....

Evening Gail

Now that I am safely home from deployment I wanted to thank you again for the beautiful quilt you sent me. It remained on my bed on base for the remainder of my deployment and now has pride of place on my temporary bed at my parents.

The quilt that you made is so beautiful and is something that I will treasure always. I feel so grateful to be its recipient.

Again, thank you.

.....

Dear Jan-Maree, Caroline and Sue

I am a logistics Officer in the RAN (currently serving in South Sudan). I wanted to write to you today to thank you for the lovely handmade laundry bag I received from you last night. I have cc my mother on this email as I know she would also be grateful to you for this act of kindness (mum, letter from the ladies attached).

I think the concept of Aussie Hero Quilts is great, thank you so much Jan-Maree for starting this group up  and for Caroline and Sue for continuing on this work. I am really pleased that you are doing this for not only the people deployed to the MEO but to places such as South Sudan. There is always a lot of focus on the MEO area (rightfully so) with other deployments sometimes being forgotten.

I have put my order in to get a quilt, I know you cannot guarantee a personalized one but I have asked for a cat with a blue UN Beret on, so I look forward to seeing if this can be achieved. If not I have no doubt whatever is made will be wonderful. 

After I finish here I am posting to a ship and I will be sure to take my bag/quilt with me and treasure them for a long time. It is wonderful people like you that make me proud to serve Australia. Your generosity is appreciated by many and you should receive recognition for the hard work you do. We were all very surprised last night to receive our personalized bags and the box of goodies.

Jan-Maree, I am glad you ended up crossing over to the best service ;) my partner is also in the Navy (23 years as a submariner).

Caroline and Sue, I loved the material you used for my bag. I have always like peacock feathers, my late grandmother believed they were good luck, so it is fortuitous you picked this material for me. Sue, I understand you are in your 70’s, I can only hope that when I am your age I am making half the contribution you are making to the happiness of others.

On the eve of ANZAC DAY, I wish you a lovey day. You offer just as much a service to your country as I do in uniform

Thank you again, your efforts are greatly appreciated 
.....

Dear Lisa

Firstly, thank you sooo much for my quilt! It is so amazing, just perfect and no explanation was required. It suited me so much and made my month so much so, I teared up the more I looked at it. My quilt has not left my bed since the day I received it :) :) I love it so much. It was definitely worth the wait. I couldn't really remember what I wrote in the requests but wow from what I can remember you have managed to fit it all into my amazing quilt. I'm stoked!!! The time it must have taken you. Wow! Thank you.

The sunset and sunrise is one of my favourite squares! I love that you created your own sort of picture with different materials, it turned out beautifully. Oh and I love the overall colours, my favourite type of green and that blue on the back, so lovely.

Okay so the fish, I knew exactly what it was when I saw it :) - I guess its a fisher-womans' thing haha
Oh my gosh I just love the farm scene!! Both the beach and farm are on my laundry bag so its really lovely they both have made it onto the quilt - I love the beach scene too! Such bright and beautiful colours. I wished I was near a beach when I saw it.

Oh my the bikini tree was one of the first things that caught my eye. I laughed out so loud my next door neighbour came to see what all the fuss was about, I tried to explain it to him but he didn't really understand (haha) oh my the memories of driving past that of a kid and hanging by the window to see what colour the bikini was that week - oh and the disappointment if it hadn't changed since I last saw it haha fond memories!! Thank you for that special touch.
I think the photo is amazing! I was really touched you went to so much effort to remind me of home! :):)
So in all, I LOVE my quilt! It honestly is the best. You have managed to capture me and my treasures all in one! You have exceeded my expectations Lisa Thank you!!
I see you have an email. I will send an email photo attachment of me and my quilt!
I have just over two weeks to go, six and a half months down. I cannot wait to return home to Australia. 
Thank you again for all your efforts, time and thoughtfulness
Best wishes
.....

Dear Sue,

I received the Laundry Bag you made for me yesterday (23 April 2015) in the post. Thank you so much, it certainly put a smile on my face!!! I cannot express how much your kind gesture meant to me, and how touching it was to read the enclosed letters written by both your daughter Caroline and Jan-Maree. It actually made me quite emotional and a little teary to know that you had taken the time to sew for me, and to know that people such as yourself have such gratitude for the sacrifices made by military members and their families.

Yesterday was actually my Birthday and so the timing of the postman couldn’t have been any better.  In addition, my wife and I are celebrating our Wedding Anniversary later this month and in our six years together we have been apart for approximately three years; as I have had five operational deployments in the last six years, mostly in Afghanistan and now in the South Sudan. One of the realities of being a military member is that you miss out on many occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases, births, deaths and marriages due to being deployed on operations overseas or on domestic or international exercises. So naturally to receive your laundry bag on my Birthday was immensely touching.

Again, thank you so much. Have a good Anzac Day and know that tomorrow I’ll be giving thanks not only to my brothers who have made the ultimate sacrifice and my family who support me, but also to those such as yourself who carry on the spirit of Anzac!

Yours aye,
.....


Julie,

I received you package with my laundry bag yesterday. Thank you very much. I appreciate the effort you and your fellow sewers put in to make us feel special.

I have been in theatre nearly 3 months and have 3 to go. My role here is commanding the warehouse and tracking the logistic support to everyone in the Middle East. 

Once again, thank you for taking the time to show your support to what we do. I have attached a picture of my platoon and I at work, and also a group picture of my entire Company.

I hope this email sees you well, have a wonderful day.
.....



Hi Julie,

I received the laundry bag that you made, its great. I feel terrible that I have to place my dirty clothes in such a nice bag!! 

Thank you for your time and effort. Also thank you for the lollies, my work colleagues and I finished them in off in one sitting.

Cheers,
.....


Dear Leanne, 


Thank you for your touching letter and amazing quilt. It is a truly wonderful experience for me to know that someone as kind and generous as you cares so much for the Australian soldiers that are deployed. The timing of your quilt couldn’t have been better than the eve of ANZAC Day, making it even more memorable. I would write a letter to you but mail takes about two months to get back to Australia and my penmanship is not as lovely as yours. Please pass on my thanks and gratitude to Karina for her efforts on the quilt. Your work is also amazing; I know I can’t do what you girls can and don’t know where you find the time to create such beautiful work.   

I was fortunate enough to see the Centenary Quilt as it traveled through the Middle East and the sentiment is touching for all the soldiers who are currently deployed. I know that the work all the ladies put in was monumental and that there should be plenty of photos taken with it. 

The goodies you placed in the parcel you sent me are some of the luxuries from home that everyone misses. I could not keep them all to myself and have shared with all my soldiers. They appreciated it and are envious of my amazing quilt. I did take the liberty of keeping the chocolate coated coffee beans (they deserve the awards they won). 

The quilt, letter and gifts that you sent me mean more than I can express in words. This has meant so much to my family as well. When I sent the pictures and a small message to them both my mum and Jade cried and want to share this lovely story with everyone. They were so happy to know that people care so much for the soldiers and would do something so kind for no reward. 

I will stay safe and have every intention of making sure my team come back in one piece (mentally and physically). 

Thank you once a gain Leanne, 

Kindest Regards 
.....



G'day Leanne,

I am so sorry it has taken me so long to write, but I have finally found a spare few minutes!

I want to thank you for my quilt and bag, they are absolutely fantastic! In your letter you wrote that I probably wouldn't need the quilt in the Middle Eastern heat - but rest assured it is welcome now, as during the Middle East deployment we got re-tasked to head to the Greek Island of Lemnos and then to Athens for the Centenary of Anzac Day commemorations. We are currently transiting through the Agean Sea and it is very cold at night now compared to the Middle East, and the quilts are coming in very handy with everyone!

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I'm a Communications and Information Systems sailor on board HMAS Success. I manage and operate all our communications equipment on board, including radio equipment, visual signalling equipment and all our computer networking equipment. We have been deployed since mid-November, and returning to Australia beginning of June. I'm married with a little girl who turns 2 a couple of days before we get back home, so I am looking forward to seeing both wife and daughter soon!

It seems like ages ago now but we had a great Christmas on board, even though we were away from home. It was my third Christmas at sea and by far and away the best one. I share a living space with 15 others and we all get along extremely well so we made the most of the day with lots of food and laughs. Our mail deliveries have been a constant source of frustration so we didn't get our Christmas presents until our port visit after Christmas, however we made the most of the day!
Once again, I am extremely impressed with my quilt and bag. When I first thought of the Pink Floyd design I thought it might have been a bit complicated however you have created a masterpiece! I was blown away by the design on the bag, one of their early album designs that is quite rare so when I saw it I was very excited! 

Like I said before we are up here in the Agean Sea heading to Lemnos and Athens for Centenary of Anzac Day. It is amazing being up here in places that were quite important for the Gallipoli campaign during this time, and the whole ship's company are very proud to be a part of it all. We joined up with HMAS Anzac and HMNZS Te Kaha (New Zealanders) and sailed with them through the Red Sea and Suez Canal and in to the Mediterranean Sea as a combined ANZAC fleet which was a great experience. They will be heading on to Gallipoli itself, whilst we will be at Lemnos (where the Australian Field Hospitals were) and Athens for Commemoration services. 

Anyway I had better go and do some work actually, it is 1130pm here and I am about to go off watch and get some sleep before we pull in to Lemnos tomorrow.

Thank you once again Leanne for your quilt and bag, and of course for your support of all of us whilst on deployment. We certainly do appreciate it!

Regards, 

.....


Dear Elsie,

Thank you so much for making the beautiful quilt and your letter.

I can see you have gone to a great deal of trouble and I am very impressed that you were able to make it as quickly as you did. The quilt was not wrinkled so the postal process worked well.

Thank you also for the thoughtful copy of the West Australian, the soups, PKs and Mentones. They all arrived today in the mail from Australia.

It's always fantastic to get mail from Australia. This week the RAAF Air Task Group, where I work in the Middle East Region (MER), received a few tonnes of mail full of magazines, chocolates etc. from very generous RSLs across Australia.

I actually requested a quilt from Jan-Maree during the Easter period when I was holidaying with my family.  My deployment in the MER is for 6.5 months so I am entitled to a return trip to Australia during that period with approx 14 days of leave. Therefore, the Easter period was a perfect opportunity to holiday with my wife and two daughters. 

We are at a very safe location; essentially, it is like working at a construction site within a maximum security grade prison. The  24-hour aircraft noise is incredible given the large number of coalition military aircraft operating from this base. The base is projected to have temperatures up to approximately 65 degrees over the summer (June - August) so it should be an interesting experience. Today, it was approx 45 degrees.

I am one of the RAAF members on Operation OKRA, which is conducting air combat operations against ISIL with Super Hornets, Classic Hornets, the Airborne Early Warning and Control Wedgetail (i.e. 737 aircraft) and the Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft. Everyone is very enthusiastic with the work they are doing.  Our work days generally start at approx 7:00 AM and finish at approx 6:00 PM (6-7 days per week) although there are many of us who have longer days at work. 

Tomorrow, as you know, is ANZAC Day. The Task Group has a dawn service to attend on base (at 0500 H) with a gunfire breakfast. We can watch the AFL and rugby league games live on TV and then finish the day with a sunset ceremony and anniversary dinner. This should be a very memorable day for all of us although it will be busy with a lot of work to make these activities flow smoothly.

Once again, thanks for your very kind gesture and thoughtful gifts.

I hope you have an enjoyable ANZAC Day.

.....


Hi Rita M,

Firstly thank you very much for the Quilt and laundry bag I feel very privileged to have received your gift and yes I won't need it to keep me warm but it has taken pride of place on the wall in HQ in the Transport section.  We did have to put up with the PL Commanders Quilt hanging on the wall because it was a RAEME one, but now we can walk into the office with a smile now.
ANZAC Day is on tomorrow and it's going to be good to be able to have been on deployment 100 years on.
Regards, 
.....



Dear Gale and Jenny, 

Thank you both so much for my brilliant Aussie Hero Quilt and laundry bag, and for the lovely letter you sent with it. ...Not forgetting the lollies, either! It made it all the more special that you are both Christians and that you are praying for me and my shipmates. ...Keep it up, especially when we transit the Red Sea in early May - the last time we were there it was very rough and half the crew were sea-sick! 

We're presently in Athens for Centenary of ANZAC Commemorations. We're hosting the Dawn Service here on the ship, and then a contingent of our people will go to the Commonwealth War Graves for the 1100 service. I'll be presiding at both services, so if it's on the TV, I'll be the Naval officer wearing a long frock... We've just been to the island of Lemnos for their commemorations, but will be returning to the Middle East Area for a few weeks before we return to Australia. 

You'll be pleased to hear that I put your quilt to good use as soon as I got it. It's been getting quite warm where we've been for the last few weeks, but it's still spring here in Greece, with nightly temperatures around 10 degrees. As a ship is basically a big steel box, it cools down very quickly, and my cabin is absolutely freezing - and because we were acclimatised to warmer weather, I am really feeling the cold. That extra layer made all the difference last night! 

Again, thank you very much. I hope to be able to get in touch with you again when I'm back home in Sydney. 

.....

On behalf of the Australia Contingent (OP ASLAN) serving as part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) thank you for your poem and wonderful laundry bags that arrived here in time for the 100th commemorative anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli in 1915. Your ongoing support to the Defence Personnel supporting this operation is truly appreciated by all the team. The new laundry bags have added much needed colour to our laundry room! The photo below was taken yesterday as part of the commemorative activities by the OP ASLAN contingent.



.....



Hi Jan-Maree, 
thank you very much for my beautiful quilt, I received it a few days ago in the mail. It's perfect, I love the colours and pictures of animals. It makes my room so much brighter and homely. Please thank Sharon and Lisa N who put all their time and care into the quilt, it will be something that I treasure for a long time as a memory of my time over here. And the lollies were great too, delicious!! ;)

Your letter was also lovely, I'm a RAAF nurse and my job is to care for Australian patients who cannot remain in country and have to be flown to another base outside Afghanistan for further medical treatment or to return back to Australia. I make sure they're fit to fly and then travel with them in the aircraft. Thankfully I'm not very busy but I am also working in the NATO hospital in Kabul with other Australians. They're a good group of people and we enjoy working and spending our free time together. It's a great opportunity to also work with personnel from 10 other countries, all within the same hospital. Despite being away from my family, it's a great experience and I'm enjoying it. 

We had anzac day here yesterday, a beautiful dawn service with Australians, Turkish, Kiwis and British personnel. It is a privilege to be on Operations on the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings but a good day to spend with our friends and colleagues. After a gunfire breakfast we spent the day in our recreation area talking, playing two up, enjoying our two beers each and a BBQ lunch while watching every flavour of football on our large TV. 

Thanks again for your support and thoughts, it is really nice to know generous people as yourselves support us over here. It's much appreciated. 

Warm regards,

.....


Dear Jan-Maree,

I just wanted to write a quick thank you for the lovely quilt and laundry bag I received on Anzac Day morning. I'm currently deployed in Iraq and although it is a huge privilege and honour to be deployed on such a monumental and sacred occasion, one can't help at times to feel a little homesick (especially when you hear from your workmates enjoying all those beers back home!). However, knowing someone as caring and thoughtful as yourself is back there thinking of us and spending your valuable spare time working to make our life over here that much easier makes it all worthwhile.

I adore both the quilt and the laundry bag and look forward to using them for many years to come. I particularly like that they are so unique, I'll have no trouble locating them in a large pile of other bags when picking up my laundry next! Can you please pass on my gratitude and best wishes to the other lovely ladies in Penrith who helped with it also. You are all doing an amazing job.

I also would like to pass on thank you's from all the other men and women in our Task Force. There were many surprised and appreciative soldiers this morning due to your packages (Tim Tams didn't hurt either). Its very humbling to know people care so much.

Once again, thank you Jan-Maree to yourself and all the other volunteers for the gifts and for continuing to help deployed members around the world.


Kind regards
.....

What a surprise in Iraq!

I really appreciate the kind gesture of making us all a personalised quilt and laundry bag.
Special thanks to Sharon for mine in particular.

My mother is a quilter as well, and is bordering on completely insane about it. My family home is slowly being consumed by fabric, I feel sorry for my father! I really do understand how much effort goes into producing one of these so my appreciation really is heart felt.

Thankyou for the letter, it is excellent to learn about those who really do support us quietly, as unfortunately I feel the majority of people out there don't understand and or care. So thank you all. 

The laundry bag is also excellent and I will put it to good use over here, as it will distinguish ours from the American bags, as we all share the same laundry.

I can't wait to get the quilt home as I will give it to my son who has just turned 1, I have been on many deployments away from my wife, but this is the first one away from my boy, and it really is a hard one. I never thought I would have been so affected by it. 

I would like to finish off by saying theses small things that you do really do lift our spirits, and we are eternally grateful.
.....

I don't know about you but these messages just make my day.

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

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