Sunday, 24 July 2016

Welcome Home HMAS Darwin.....

Well, I am sorry it has taken me so long to get this post written but my time is not my own and this week has been crazy.   I stayed up last night till I got this written but for some reason, although I scheduled it to post at 10am, exactly the time that CMDR Phillip Henry expertly pulled the fabulous HMAS Darwin alongside the wharf, it did not happen so here goes again..... if you can read this you know it worked!

Some months ago, CMDR Henry wrote to all of those who made quilts or laundry bags for his crew and invited them to come to the wharf to welcome them home.  Twentyfive excited Aussie Hero Friends gathered, their enthusiasm not even remotely dampened by the drizzly weather. 

Robyn W (VIC) flew in from Victoria to join us. Not to be outdone, her sister Bev C, was at a craft show in South Australia with her husband Geoff representing their business Mulberry Lane Quilting. Before she could leave Geoff at the show, her daughter had to fly in from Victoria to take her place so she could fly in from SA for the one night stay!!   Now that is dedication.

Awesome effort ladies...

Two others who travelled by aircraft to be there on the day were Jean and Sandy.  They came down from Coffs Harbor, just for one night.

CAPT Terry Morrison, seen here with his lovely wife, Maridy, was kind enough to drive myself and three others, Lisa N, Leonie and Gail, in to the wharf for the day.  Terry was the Commanding Officer of HMAS Darwin when they deployed last and just so happened to receive a quilt made by me.  Maridy, by the way, makes the BEST cupcakes I have ever tasted!  

You may remember that the lovely girls from Lone Pine Medals, Kirsty and Alex, replaced my replica medals immediately they heard about the house fire, without being asked, and got them to me within a couple of days! I had met these girls once before but I was extra pleased to meet them both again and give them both a big thank you hug!   Later on they got me a beauty but more on that later!

Any time there is a ship coming home you can count on the chaplains showing up to lend some warmth to the welcome and these three are very happy past recipients of Aussie Hero Quilts and laundry bags.   It is always lovely to catch up with them.  Handsome looking bunch aren't they!

Commodore Lee Goddard is often there when the ships come in and never misses an opportunity to pass on his thanks for what we do. He travels around the various ships and regularly sees evidence of our work in his travels.  

Lynn had been working hard to be ready for the big day.... this is the second welcome home banner she has made.... the first one was lost in the fire....  Thanks Lynn.

You just never know who you will meet when you stand on the wharf and the PM looks really happy to have met our Kim! 

I was delighted to meet up with one of my recent favourites. This is our Warrant Officer of the Navy or WON.  For those who do not know, that is the most senior Warrant Officer position in the Navy.  The round medallion under his name tag is specific to the WON as is the crest on his sleeve. 

Wendy caught up with two more Captains..... CAPT Luke Charles-Jones and CAPT Paul O'Grady.  Paul is another of our recipients... he received a quilt themed after the band "The Beards".... rather appropriate don't you think?

The Prime Minister addressed the assembled crowd, paying tribute not only to the crew for their hard work, but also to the assembled family and friends for their love and support whilst HMAS Darwin was away.   It is so important to recognise the value of the contributions made by the family and friends of those away from home.

The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, was kind enough to write to me when he heard about the destruction of our home.   I made a point of speaking to him to thank him for his letter and he took the opportunity to introduce me to the Prime Minister.   

And at last...... HMAS Darwin came into sight... 

Now allow me to introduce you to PO Godfrey,  She was tasked with the job of meeting up with me and making sure I was at the end of the gangway when the Captain disembarked so that he could speak to me (after his wife and children, the Chief of Navy and the Prime Minister.... saved the best for last....  bahahaha!!!)

Now back to how these two managed to catch me completely off guard.... 

As well as mounting replica medals and doing a wonderful job of it.... they also frame mementos and the like and do a beautiful job!  Here they are with some of their wonderful work!

As we stood around chatting I noticed that they were holding a rather large framed piece that was wrapped in bubble wrap.  I could not see what had been framed as they very carefully kept the back facing me all the time.  I thought they must have been there to present something to the Captain.  They had mounted over 100 sets of medals for the crew and I thought this much have been something related to that...... I didn't really think about it too much..... but I did have some fun with them....

I was joking with them asking them what they had and who it was for.  "Come on" I said,  "you can tell me!"   LOL

You can imagine the look on my face when the Captain greeted me and from behind me they produced this beautifully framed picture of HMAS Darwin's crew gathered with their quilts and laundry bags.

I wish I could take a better photo of it but I hope you get the idea. There is a lovely story behind this photo of HMAS Darwin.  The day after the fire I received an email from CMDR Phillips that said in part....

"We on Darwin saw the Daily Telegraph article in which there is a photo of you holding the framed photo from HMAS Darwin, from the last deployment up here.

We can never replace that, however today, all our ships company who have received a Quilt or Laundry Bag from you and your team, got out and had another photo taken for you, attached below.  We will, present you a framed version when we get home, but our team wanted to let you know they fully support you in your time of need."

Thank you CMDR Phillips and crew, that means more than you can imagine.

There were so many happy recipients there as usual.  I have lost my Mystery Quilt records but if you worked on the Princess themed quilt earlier this year please meet your little princess and her proud and grateful Dad.  That quilt was a real winner.

Susan S, this is your Avengers recipient. 

Lynn met one of her recipients.... 

I have a bit of a soft spot for this one... can't go into details but he very thoughtfully arranged a quilt for someone else before his deployment came up - his thoughtfulness deserved a little special attention for him as well. 

Another proud quilt recipient.... 

And this gorgeous fellow requested a Torres Strait Islander flag on his quilt - he loved it and plans to give it to someone special...

The WPH ladies might remember making a red, white and blue nautically themed quilt and Belinda quilted it.  This lovely mum will be sharing it with her son.

Janis this is your Tottenham fan....

Another happy recipient of one of our donated quilt tops completed by Lisa N 

Not only did this fellow receive his own quilt and laundry bag... his mother also sewed quilts and laundry bags for others as well.

One of your recipients Nancy

This gorgeous recipient of yours, Anna, made a point of telling me how much all the girls in her area loved their quilts, especially for movie nights and the like.

And Lisa N met a couple of her recipients. This gorgeous girl has actually done three deployments to the Middle East since Aussie Heroes has been in operation.... twice on HMAS Darwin and also with HMAS Newcastle.  That is a lot of time away.

And another of Lisa N's recipients. 

I got a lovely big hug from him too, remembering him from when he came home from deployment with HMAS Darwin last time and also from being there to farewell him when he left this time.

These two little fellows were soooo glad to have their dad, the Captain, back him again.

And even the Captain was able to meet Sue O'D, his quilter

Where possible I will let you know whose recipient these folks are but my records are nolonger complete since the fire so I will my best.....  I will usually just mention the quilter;s name

The lovely lady in red, is Lynn.

Maree J these are both yours...

Sandy managed to find her recipient....

Lyn K 

Maree J again

Debbie D 

Melissa G 

Ruth P

I have lost my records who made this fellows Torres Strait Island quilt so if it was you please let me know.

Maree J 

Leah L 

This fellow was kind enough to give these two, Jean and Sue O'D  a tour of the ship.

Jenny S

Jess T 

Leah D

Bev C caught up with one of hers.

Carolyn G

Bev C 

Emma S


Su J and her Whovian...

Our Liverpool fan for the WPH ladies

Joy C 


And our fearless chaplain with his laundry bag made by Joan

Sue P

Elizabeth D

Carol B 

Katherine R 

Bev C 

and last but not least, Su J with another of her recipients.

Big, big thanks to everyone who took photos and passed them to me so that I could share them.

Thanks so much to the Captain and the crew for allowing us to share your special time with you. I can only imagine how special it was for you as I know we all had a wonderful time there too.

Till next time............keep speading the word and happy stitching!

Jan-Maree  xx


  1. Fantastic photo's JM, Lots of smiles, I can feel the love!

  2. Reading this almost a year later - it was an inspiring day.