Saturday, 4 February 2017

South Australian Quilters' Guild

I try very hard to make all my presentations professional, regardless of who I am speaking to and how many are in the audience but when a group pays money for me to attend I believe it is doubly important I deliver in a professional, informative, and hopefully, entertaining manner.

Last night I was the guest speaker for the South Australian Quilters's Guild.   They not only paid me a speaker's fee, they also paid my Airfare to get me to South Australia.  That made it doubly important for me to deliver.

The President was delighted to tell me that she works in a Defence area and has a colleague who received a quilt whilst deployed which is proudly displayed in her office!   Don't you love hearing stories like that. 

They were a very welcoming group and very attentive once I started talking. They laughed in the appropriate places so I think I achieved the goal with regard to humour.

After my presentation I was able to ask some recipients to speak.  

I had met Brenton and Jordan when they had been my escorts for my visit to 7RAR earlier that day.  I will probably embarrass them terribly by saying so but these two young men were absolutely delightful and a credit to their parents and their regiment and I will be making sure their Commanding Officer is informed.  

They spoke very well, describing how much their quilts and bags meant to them, what it was like receiving mail from home and how the arrival of the quilts and laundry bags "replenished" their morale and reminded them why they serve.  

A third recipient, who everyone calls H, also spoke.  I have known H for a couple of years, having met him during my last visit to South Australia when I delivered a quilt to him.  H had only heard about us at the end of his deployment and so needed to receive his quilt once back in Australia.  As it was not going to be possible to get his quilt to him whilst deployed we took a little time with it and I turned it into a mystery quilt.  Ladies from all over the place made blocks resembling "H"s and sent them in.  That quilt has lived on the end of his bed ever since. 

I knew H would speak from the heart and just like Brenton and Jordan, he certainly did us (and the uniform) proud.  I always tell quilters that it is not until they meet a recipient and ask them about their quilt or their laundry bag that they will understand truly how much what we do is appreciated.  There is an added warmth that comes through in their voice, you can see it in their eyes and feel it in their handshake or hug.   I would be surprised if most of the audience did not take some of that away with them after hearing these three Aussie Heroes speak. 

At some point during the visit to 7RAR Jordan had asked how many people would be present that night.  I think it was just as well he was sitting down when I told him 200!  Ellen, my off-sider at the time, thought I was joking and told him so, not realising I was serious.  I am pleased to say that last night the Guild broke all their attendance records and had the highest number of attendees ever...214... so I wasn't far off. 

More and more often these days when I speak there is someone in the audience who knows someone who has served...... or even knows someone who has received a quilt or LB. last night was no different.  A number of service wives/aunts/mothers spoke to me and about three or four of them thanked me and Aussie Heroes for the quilt their son or daughter had received. That is always wonderful to hear.

After my presentation there was another wonderful, inspiring speaker.  I can't reveal anything about her at the moment but I hope to share more once her project is public.

The evening finished with general business including show and tell.  One lady showed a lovely quilt that she intends to bind and then donate to Aussie Heroes. Another lady, Judy,  brought up a batch of laundry bags saying they were nothing special!  In fact she had made a lovely collection of very smart laundry bags which our three Heroes thought looked great!  

The Guild is also planning an Aussie Hero sewing day on a Saturday in March.  Hopefully I will get more details to pass on but if you are interested in attending just contact the Guild. 

Lots of ladies came up to talk to myself and the fellows after the meeting and quite a few said they were inspired to get involved and start sewing for us.  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Guild for inviting me to speak and for paying my airfare and making it possible for me to be there.  I hope they felt they goth their money's worth. 

I would also like to thank Brenton, Jordan and H for speaking and also, for getting in and helping out.  I just received an email from a quilter who was there and she said that she was very impressed with our Defence Force Guests who jumped straight in to help set up chairs for the many quilters who were there.  

Big thanks to my dear friend Drew who worked a late shift on Tuesday night and still got up early Wednesday to get me to the airport and backed up again on his day off to come and collect me from the airport in awful Friday afternoon traffic. 

My final thank you goes to Ellen.  Ellen's son is no longer in the services but he deployed with 7RAR in 2012 to Afghanistan and then to Iraq in 2015.  She has stayed in touch with me all that time and willingly gave me bed, spoilt me rotten and drove me here, there and everywhere during my stay. Again my trip would not have been possible without her kindness.

It was a great trip, I very much enjoyed myself and have added to my treasured bank of Aussie Hero memories.   
Now it's back to Sydney, onwards and upwards....

Till next time keep spreading the word and happy stitching. 

Jan-Maree  xx


  1. Lovely write up JM, seems like a great and productive time was had by all? If your speech to the SA guild was anything like the one you gave at HMAS Harmon last November they certainly would have got their moneys worth...well done!

  2. A wonderful, inspiring and awesome talk on Thursday night for The Quilters Guild of SA. Not many dry eyes in the house either. Thank you Jan-Marre, you were a great speaker as were the three gentlemen. A truely great night.

  3. What a fantastic trip. I was lucky enough to attend the SA guild one time when I was living there for a brief time 12 years ago. Great turnout and stories...

  4. I agree with Jacquie, I am sure your speech was entertaining and enlightening and inspiring. Great for the quilters to hear from recipients too.

  5. i took enough away from the meeting to bring tears to my daughters eyes as i retold it, her partner is ex navy and was deployed just as the Afganistan war began and spent 53 days at sea, not knowing what was going to happen. Although he was never a recipient of a quilt or bag he understood completely what a difference such a gift would make in the day to day lives of our defence forces. Well done...on every level