Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year... Farewell 2016, Welcome 2017

As last hours of 2016 tick past I want to take a few minutes to wrap up the year.

What an amazing year it has been.   Receiving the OAM in January remains one of the most humbling and cherished memories of my life.  I try every day in what I do for Aussie Heroes and in my personal life to remain worthy of such an honour.

February saw Aussie Heroes at the Casula Powerhouse for a Defence Family Welfare Day and we will be at another Defence Family Welfare Day this February but this time at the Concord RSL.

In March I visited Canberra and caught up with the newly returned Commander of the Joint Task Force, Rear Admiral Jones, the now Warrant Officer of the Navy, WO Gary Wight, and a great group of quilters.  I also visited RAAF Richmond to present a quilt for the great achievement of 10000 airbourne to a loadmaster.

I also attended the Stitches and Craft Show and that started us on the track of buying the Simply 16 quilting machine which has hugely increased our productivity.

We started work on the chapel quilts we made for Kabul and also our beautiful ANZAC Themed quilt that was sent to the ANZAC Hospital in Iraq.

In April  we started the month off with a bang with an invitation to attend morning tea at RAAF Glenbrook courtesy of the Air Commander Australia and his wife.  A fabulous time was had by all.  Of course we observed ANZAC Day.  I personally was privileged to attend the deeply moving service with 2 Commando Regiment.

We also started sending laundry bags to Cairns for all their sea-going sailors on patrol boats and the like.

At the end of April I took part in a music video for the Australian band, Simply Bushed at they recorded their awesome tribute song, "Raise Your Glass".  What an amazing experience and what a class act these guys are.... happily and most excitingly their video has been nominated for Best Music Video in the Golden Guitar Awards, coming up at the end of January this month... good luck guys! You deserve to win!

In May we continued on with our laundry bags for Cairns and started on our sea-going sailors and soldiers in Darwin.   I made another trip to Canberra and caught up with recipients and friends and intiated discussions about our dinner at the end of the year.

June.... well we all know what happened in June...  at 1am on the 12th of June my home was destroyed by fire.   What a surreal experience. Still seems amazing that it happened.  Still seems unreal. I think the fact that my home was at the end of a short battleaxe block helped me in a funny way as once to left the house and cleared my car from the driveway to allow access for the firemen, I could not see the house and did not actually watch it go up in flames so I do not have that vision in my memory banks.

Thank goodness we were insured.  I have said it before and I hope you are not sick of hearing it but thank goodness for all of you. People go through horrible experiences like this all the time but I doubt that there are many people who have received the most wonderful outpouring of love and support that my family and I received and continue to receive.  People will tell you that six weeks after an event like this people move on and think you have moved on as well.. well not so in my case. I continue to get emails and messages whenever someone has the need to contact me and so often there is a quick enquiry as to how we are going and has the rebuild started yet. More on that later.....

Thanks largely to the massive support of the wonderful local ladies and gents involved with Aussie Heroes, so many of you unsung heroes but I could not have come back without you!.

We managed to go ahead with our display at Government House over June/July for two weeks and also managed to concurrently attend the Stitches and Craft Show.  Again, so much support and love. Attending both these displays/shows at the same time was a huge undertaking for us at any time, let alone after losing just about all our resources but we pulled together and we made it... rose like a Phoenix, stronger than ever....  Huge thanks to Blessington who immediately offered me a great price to replace the Simply 16 and to Bernina who gave great deals on replacement sewing machines and to Selina who replaced on of them as a gift.   Unbelievable generosity and support.

Around 4-6 weeks after the fire we were up and running again, never really stopped I guess, but felt more on track by then anyway.

July saw our Chapel quilts arrive in Kabul. I still can't believe that these quilts made it after being loaded into my car the night before the fire! They were meant to be!

I started to get out and about a bit after the fire... attending the joyous welcome home for HMAS Darwin... a ship that had risen to the challenge of supporting us marvelously, raising over $8000 for us to purchase a new Simply 16 having lost the first one in the fire just three weeks after we bought it.  I also attended a March Out at Kapooka, always a special experience.

August saw me still working hard, with much assistance, to get Aussie Heroes out from behind the eight ball. I still don't think we have caught up but we are still ticking along, working hard and kicking goals.

September saw HMAS Watson invite a few of us to attend a clear lower deck parade so they could present me with vouchers as another gesture of the amazing support I have received since the fire.

News stories on TV and in magazines were aired and published.   I guess the fire was one way to raise the profile of Aussie Heroes, but certainly not a method I would recommend.

I think it was in October that we started sending laundry bags to our submariners.  One more lot and they will all be catered for.  

October also saw us attend an afternoon tea on HMAS Darwin in order to be among the organisations that they recognised with donations from funds raised whilst they were on deployment.... a crew of around 200 raised over $40000 ............ amazing work but true unsung Aussie Heroes!

Preparations continued a plenty for our end of year dinner. Time passed in a blur as so many things were happening in order to get ready for an amazing end to the year.

At the beginning of November 140 of us celebrated our year at HMAS Harman with a wonderful dinner hosted by the Commanding Officer and attended by many recipients and quilters.  I would not change a minute of the night, nothing went amiss, all the plans went smoothly and the only thing I wished was that I could have slowed the night down... time just went too fast but what a wonderful night it was.  

About fifty of us met for breakfast at Poppy's Cafe at the War Memorial the next morning.. another huge success and also an event to be repeated every year.

Now we have to think about where in Canberra we can hold the dinner for 2017.  A hard act to follow..

I no sooner returned home from Canberra and it was time to head off to welcome home HMAS Perth, as their guest, on board with them as they came alongside at the end of their deployment on Remembrance Day of all days.  What a wonderful experience.... one I will never forget and a wonderful way to honour Aussie Heroes.  Thank you!

Back from Perth and just about straight down to Wagga to attend the Wagga Christian College Defence Force Day.    I drove home on my birthday and then a week later when celebrating my birthday with friends, I was presented with a gift I will always hold among my most treasured possessions, my new Aussie Hero Quilt... replacing one I had been given in 2013 which had been lost in the fire.   I did not see that one coming at all.

December started with a trip to Melbourne to attend an Aussie Hero Lunch for Victorians.  A great day was had by all. I expect this will also become an annual event though I am not sure I will be able to afford to attend it every year.  

A last sewing day in Penrith on the 17th and then it was Christmas and then here we are... New Year's Eve.

Because so many of you ask... a brief update on our home.   Plans were finally submitted to council in November.   In early December they were knocked back by council for various reasons (none of our doing though) so we have had to go back to the start again and are now waiting for amended documents to be submitted.   No idea when that will happen, hopefully before January is out. We have been told to expect about a 2 month turn around and then, once approved it will take around 8-9 months to turn our plans into a house.... that means it will be sometime AFTER Christmas 2017 before we are back in our own home.

That is a lot longer that we expected but there is not much we can do to speed things up but you can bet your bottom dollar that I will not be doing anything that might cause delays!   We have to deal with it as best we can... I remind myself that there are people much worse off than us. We have a roof over our heads, I have enough room to run Aussie Heroes and are so blessed with the friends who support us when we need it.

Whilst there are sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen who are struggling with PTSD and other injuries, as well as those who deal with homelessness and worse I refuse to sit here and feel sorry for myself.

So, my plans for January are to keep things as quiet and peaceful as I can as I will largely be at home on my own for most of it and this is the only time of the year that is remotely quiet for me.

Aussie Heroes swings back into action straight after Australia Day... my first speaking engagement sees me fly to South Australia as the guest of the South Australian Quilter's Guild to speak on 2 Feb. I have another speaking engagement on Feb 13th and then there is the Family Welfare Day in Concord at the end of the month. I already have two speaking dates in March and one if July.

Loads to do and loads to look forward to..

This year we managed to send over 1300 quilts and nearly 3000 laundry bags.  We have achieved well over 6600 quilts and over 13000 laundry bags in the last five years.   Amazing. 

Here is to aiming bigger and better next year. 

I am sorry I did not go back and find photos to illustrate all of this but that would have taken ages and I don't have time today. I have sewing to do... and some scones to make for afternoon tea with a good friend, not to mention a pavlova to decorate for tonight's desert.

Before I go though, once again, a heartfelt thank you to all of you, for all you have done to support Aussie Heroes and myself!   I constantly marvel at how blessed I have been to be able to do what I do and the wonderful people I get to do it with and for!   

Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Wishing you ALL a very Happy, peaceful, safe and productive New Year.

Till NEXT YEAR!!!

Much love, Jan-Maree  xx




Friday, 30 December 2016

Weekly Dispatches 30 December 2016

Last Weekly Dispatches for the year.... wow where did this year go!

Over 1300 quilt and 2800 laundry bags this year!  That is awesome.  

Well done everyone. 

Even this week in between Christmas and the New Year, with all that people have on, we have managed to get a few quilts and laundry bags off in the mail. 

So far for 2016 we have sent off 2853 laundry bags 

which brings us to a total of 13122 since we started...

and...

We have also sent 1375 quilts 

bringing our total since we started to over 6665 quilts

BOM blocks turned into a great quilt top by Bev U, quilted by Philomena


Clarissa






Ginny


Jenny W 


Joan 







Joy H 


Pam H 


Pennie




Rita C 


Saeah-Jane


Su J 



Sue N 





Sue S 






Susan P


April


Bennie


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

and 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

JMxx

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Wednesday Words of Thanks 28 Dec 16




Well I hope your days are nice and relaxing at the moment, at least for the glorious days as above, between Christmas and New Year. I am enjoying the unusual quiet.  Even so I put out the request list yesterday and got more response than I expected so that was a nice surprise. I have been enjoying sewing though. Have completed two quilt tops and plan to make three laundry bags today and get started on my next quilt top... problem is... when you see all the requests... which one do I choose!!!  So hard!

Still getting a few thank you messages in the mail around the country which is always welcome.

Enjoy!!!
....
Dear Jan
I would like to send my greatest gratitude for the quilt Jen S has created for "Chicken Little".  From my family to yours and the AHQ family, Merry Christmas and a safe New Year... your work is thoroughly appreciated world wide.... I'm so thankful for yours and your team's tireless service.

....

Hi JM

I received my quilt this week and I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and love that has gone into it.

To you and all the ladies who made it, I thank you so much. I truly love how deeply personal it is. It has buoyed my spirit, particularly at this point in my deployment and with Christmas just around the corner.

Thank you also for all the Christmas goodies. I shared them with the team too, with the caramello koalas a big fave!

See attached for some photos of my bed now. It's hard to choose which side of my quilt I will display so I have decided to alternate it daily!!

Thank you so much.




.....

Dear Rosemary,
Thank you so much for the quilt. I absolutely love it and it really brightens up my room.  You have an incredible talent and it is amazingly generous of you to devote so much of your time to making quilts for us.  I know that everyone over here really appreciates the beautiful quilts that you make.
Thank you for the lollies and chocolate biscuits, the banana ones are my favourites.
I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.
.....

Dear Bridget,

Thank you so much for the very meaningful Aussie Hero Quilt. It was such a pleasant surprise !

We received the package a while back (not knowing what it was), we only opened it yesterday when XXXXX came home, just in time for Christmas. It is a wonderful feeling to have someone acknowledged the effort he has put into his work.

Thank you and the Jan-Maree sewing ladies for bringing comfort to the defence members and their family.

Wishing you all and Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!
.....



Dear Julie-Ann

I write to thank you very, so very much, for your contribution not only to the RAN team in XXXXX, but for all the work you do as one of the team of AHQ.
We received the laundry bags you made and sent in early December and they have indeed been well used.
I have a more formal letter which will be sent, but I was waiting for the opportunity to get a photo (we took a good one today!).  I should be able to send this within the next week!


I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Day.  Our absence from home over Christmas is made all the more easier that we know there are people like you who support what we do and go that extra mile with those great laundry bags and quilts.

......

Hi Joan,

Just wanted to send you a big thank you for my beautiful laundry Bag! You got the colours perfect and it arrived just before Christmas right as I needed something to perk me up! I absolutely love it and appreciate all the hard work you do.

Warmest regards and many thanks,


.....

G'day Gail,

Thank you so much for the Quilt! It is so cool and I love it. I am sure it will be in my family's possession for a long time to come. I think it's so great that you make these quilts for deployed soldiers, sailors and airmen. We all appreciate having stuff from home that has so much heart put in to it.

Thank you for your support, I really appreciate it
.....

Dear Clarissa

You recently made a laundry bag for me. My oh my it is just beautiful! Mine is the purple, green and ladybird themed bag with my initials. I received the parcel yesterday at work and my colleagues were there as I opened it. Everyone loves my laundry bag and commented on the high quality and the perfect choice and placement of the different colours and patterns.  

I absolutely love it to the point where I don’t want to use it as a laundry bag because it’s too good!

I enjoyed reading your letter too (with a lovely ladybird printed on it). It sounds as though you have a wonderful family and that you’re keeping yourself busy! 

Thank you so much; I understand you use your own time, skill and money to make these items for those of us deployed. It is greatly appreciated. I have to say it is wonderful to receive any type of parcel in this environment but to receive such a beautiful, hand-made, personalised item is a real treat.

I wish you and your family a wonderful and safe Christmas!


Kind regards
.....


Dear Jean,

I am a chaplain in the United State Air Force. I am currently deployed to XXXXX where I met a wonderful chaplain from Australia, XXXX. She told me about the extraordinary gifts of laundry bags which are sent to deployed Australian military members. Then, she allowed me to pick one for myself. I chose the one which contained your name. I chose this one because I adored the pattern and colors- mostly orange which is the color of my Alma Mater, Oklahoma State University.

Thank you very much for this work of love you do. Around 200 bags! That is amazing. 

You can be very proud of your Australian service members. They are wonderful. I just returned from an evening with them enjoying an Aussie style Christmas party. I am blessed to serve along side of them, especially XXXXX. 


Thank you again for this wonderful gift, and Merry Christmas
.....

Merry Christmas Joan. 

many thanks for the laundry bag. It thinks it is great. You have done a fantastic job with it, so neatly constructed to very fine tolerance and a great surface finish inside and out. (Note: he is an engineer and Joan sent materials with pictures of small tools and mentioned these in my letter).

It is a lot closer to what I do than you might think since we have a small team of trades working for us. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and thank you for making my Christmas away from home so much brighter.
Kind Regards
.....


Hi Sue,
Firstly thank you for taking the time to make my lovely quilt. I really appreciate you making it for me and the work that you put in for all the Defence menbers on operations. By the time you get this I will be almost home, but have had a great tour.

All the best and hope you have a good Christmas.
.....

Dearest Sue
THANK YOU!! My absolutely BEAUTIFUL Quilt cover arrived & I absolutely Love it! 
IT  Is PERFECT! 
My words can not express how grateful I am!
I love the wine glasses,coffee &shoes.
So thoughtful 
I have been on a high with happiness showing everyone. 
It is beautiful. 
You are so kind! 
All my love 
......

Still next time..... keep spreading the word and happy stitching!!

Jan-Maree xx

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Aussie Hero Requests 27 December 16

Hi all

NOTE – if you receive this via email DO NOT try to reply to me via email. You need to use friendsofAHQ@gmail.com

Post By Date

The post by date for the rest of the requests in this week’s list is 30 January.  PLEASE note the date and let me know if you have any problems getting your quilt/LB away on time. In fact, if you are going to be late posting it please let me know BEFORE you post it.  Also, if this time frame is too tight for you, there are options, just email me to discuss.

PRIORITY QUILTS

We have a number of priority quilts this time….  Numbers 2 to 14 inclusive really all need to be in the mail by the end of January if we can manage it.  Can you please help?

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE copy the ENTIRE line if you wish to nominate for a quilt or laundry bag.  This is really important to make sure that neither you nor I copy the wrong number which could lead to me giving you the wrong details for specific request.

B=both quilt and laundry bag (feel free to nominate to JUST do the laundry bag if you wish)

Q= just a quilt

LB = just a laundry bag

Requests in pink are for girls.

NOTE

Australian National Flag - you can buy panels at Spotlight – ask for them if you can’t find them.
United Nations Flag – I have and can send to you.
Rising Sun and other badges – ask me about them.

If they want some text and it is too much for you to applique I can get it embroidered and sent to you if you like to be sewn on the quilt or sewn into it.

Please think about what the request involves before you take it on. Google, ask questions, email me, make sure you can complete it to your satisfaction before you commit to it if possible please.

If there is more than one request on this list that you would be happy to do I suggest that you send me a list of requests and tell me how many you want to be allocated…. ie one of the following please….  There are always a few requests that everyone wants to do (and I can never pick them) so if the first one you ask for is taken then I can allocate another from your list if I have a list.

A quick note… even if you check the request list every week, please take the time to skim over this preamble.  I edit it to make it relevant every week and I know that many of you are not reading it by the questions I am being asked. It takes you just a minute or two to scan it but takes me considerably longer to read and answer the emails I receive ….. please give me a hand in this. Your assistance is appreciated.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Cheers and happy stitching!
Jan-Maree



 Aussie laundry bags… 18 with initials please.  All bags must be masculine or gender neutral. Please let me know how many you would like to do.

EDIT... this request all taken thank you!
 LB
 1
Laundry bag - Australian White Ensign and Navy anchors with wording "HMAS Arunta Operation Manitou Rotation 64 2016-2017"
LB
1
Wonders of the World"
Q
3
Disney Princesses
Q
4
Postman Pat, red, white, blue
B
5
Spongebob Squarepants and friends
B
6
Red, white, black, Honda motorcycle Logo/Motorbikes (sportsbike)
B
7
OKRA E7 ROTO 9, desert, E7, SU-34
B
8
Weightlifting, Australia, Military
Q
9
Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Batman, Sky Landers
Q
10
Anything Male-ish (E7 planes, fishing)
Q
11
Dirt bikes, 4WD, Australian Flag
Q
12
Adventure time cartoon
Q
13
Black quilt with white Rising Sun and "International Military Police" in white.. I can have the words and the Rising Sun Embroidered to match
B
14
Turquoise, teal, cream & grey patchwork please,
B
14
Belgian Malinois dog (silhouette maybe?)  in a southern cross if possible. Purple and red poppies. Flags in each corner - Aus, NZ, UK and USA . Favourite colours; Grey Blues Black Teal :)
Q
15
Favourite colours- teal, blues, greens. Dislike pink and purple. Love to travel.
B
16
medical in soft pastel colours
Q
17
desert theme, Aussie flag and dark blue border please.
B
18
Medical/nursing in soft colours
Q
19
North Melbourne (AFL)
Q
20
Military Working Dog, Australian Flag
Q
21
Toothless, How to Train your Dragon
Q
22
SAR Military Working Dog Handler. (Belgian Shepherd Malinois) Would love to see a silhouette of a "man/women dog team", bright colours. Favourite : Purple, Turquoise, tropical colours
Q
23
OP ACCORDION 20 SEP 16 - 20 APR 17  RAAF ENSIGN, RAAF ROUNDEL, AUSTRALIAN FLAG, poppies. Anything that symbolises ANZACS, war etc. I'd like it specific to the operation (if possible). My favourtie colour is blue!
Q
24
traditional quilt in red, royal blue and turquoise
B
25
Purple  military
B
26
Purple and Teal.
And my hobbies/interests that I would love to possibly be included are dogs and flowers. I just love anything pretty
B
28
Rainbow colours please
Q
29
cherry blossoms, bears, japanese drift cars and purple 3
B
30
purple and blue elephants/ melbourne storm
B
31
Aircraft/airforce blue, red and black ( I can send you a RAAF crest and you could include the motto and Roundel)
Q
32
Dark blue border, Australian National Flag
B
33
Half Australian Flag Half American Flag Thankyou.
Q
34
Wolverine and Hulk
B
35
 NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Q
36
Geelong Cats
Q
37
Melbourne FC/Disney Cars Movie
B
38
Penrith Panthers
 Archery
Q
39
Australian Flag/Southern Cross desert sand dune colours Sep 16 - Apr 17
B
40
Broncos Star Wars
B
45
LANCER EVO 5 TOMMEI MAKINEN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RALLY CAR
Q
46
Harwthorn - brown and gold
B
47
Australian Flag, Army Rising Sun, Boxing Kangaroo
B
48
FLURO GREEN, BLACK, AQUAMAN COMIC CHARACTER
B
49
RED, BLUE, "HARLEY QUINN",  ANIME(FULL METAL ALCHEMIST, GHOST IN THE SHELL)
B
50
Army Rising Sun, ANZAC
B
51
Motorcycles, Army Rising Sun, ANZAC
B
52
Anything Marvel related
LB
53
He-Man, The A-Team, Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider (80's tv shows)
B
54
The ocean, sea turtles, coral reefs, whales, dolphins, rays
B
55
Rugby league, North QLD Cowboys, QLD Maroons
B
56
WESTERN BULLDOGS (AFL) WITH THE AUST FLAG
B
57
OLD GEELONG CATS (AFL)
B
58
MAROON IN COLOUR ONE SIDE WITH THE NRL BRISBANE BRONCOS LOGO,BLUE IN COLOUR THE OTHER SIDE WITH THE NRL NORTH QUEESLAND COWBOYS LOGO (QUILT)                                                                                
B
59
MAROON WITH QUEENSLAND NRL LOGO (LAUNDRY)
B
60
Camouflage with Aust flag or Rising sun
B
61
RAEME Logo and Australian Flag in top Half  Rising Sun in Low Half of Quilt
B
62
Brisbane Lions AFL Team, Holden Cars
B
63
Medical corps or blue cattle dogs or wallabies,
B
64
Carlton Football Club, Dogs (Weimeraner & Rhodesian Ridgeback) anything Army and anything Australian
B
65
Roulette Wheel/ Rising Sun/ Manatee (Dugong)/Australian Flag - any combination of these
B
66
NRL NQ Cowboys emblem, Navy blue/Yellow. XXXX BITTER MAN
B
67
RED, WHITE, BLUE (SYDNEY ROOSTERS)
B
68
I would like to request that the quilt is fully baby blue with a large Olympic symbol on the front and the laundry bag the same.
B
70
Based around the Australian flag and the Army rising sun colours and design
B
71
Australian Flag, Army Rising Sun, Boxing Kangaroo
Q
72
Beach / Waves
B
73
Broncos   Maroon/Yellow/White
B
79
Australiana, Uluru
Q
80
Favourite colour is orange. Hobbies include wakeboarding and mortobike riding. Anchors have a special meaning to me as does the southern cross, aussie flag and aussie pride
B
81
Carpenter by trade, construction backgruond. Like motorbikes, Paragliding Snorkling
Q
82
Civil Engineer
Q
83
Australian National Flag; Please include the words "Family First and Foremost" Dark background if possible
Q
84
Brisbane Broncos and or Queensland Maroons
Q
85
 Australian National Flag and Middle East National Flags (UAE/Iraq/Iran/Qatar/Kuwait/Oman/Syria/Afghanistan/Bahrain/Egypt/Turkey etc.)
Q
86
AFL, Geelong Cats, Blue
Q
87
AUS FLAG, COWBOYS NRL TEAM, DRAGON BALL Z, ADVENTURE TIME, NARUTO,
B
88
Quilt Little Mermaid to give to his daughter as he is away so often
Q
89
Military Working Dog Handler (Belgian Shepherd Malinois) . Sport: Roller Hockey (Rink Hockey) goalkeeper. Favourite colours: Blues and Blacks.
B
90
pink, mermaids, my littlepony. No name or initials on the quilt please.
Q
91
Carlton AFL club, like fishing, golf and RAAF.

92
A Melbourne Storm Quilt would be greatly appreciated
Q
93
Broncos / Aussie Flag / Australian
Q
94
I love the North Queensland Cowboys, Love my home state QLD and my favourite color - maroon. I have grown up on the beaches too so love North QLD tropical beaches like Whitehaven Beach/Airlie Beach or the beaches north of cairns
B
95
Soccer, especially Chelsea football club and the Belgium national team.  I really appreciate you guys putting so much effort in this and supporting us!! I'm very grateful.
B
96
Blue and yellow
Q
97
North Queensland Cowboys
B
98