Thursday, 22 February 2018

It has been a busy week... Holsworthy, Gosford, HMAS Sirius, Canberra......

G'day all.

Life is never boring these days.   It has been a busy week or so. Not a lot of photos I am sorry but lots has been happening.   

There is a regular posting cycle in the Defence Force and that means that people are always moving around and changing jobs. It is important that I keep up with the changes and sometimes that means that I need to get around the place and talk to people once they have moved into their new job. 

Last Week I spent some time at Holsworthy.  First I spoke with three chaplains.  One has worked with us before but is now in a new job and two others were being introduced to Aussie Heroes.   One of them had recently returned from deployment where he had not been able to receive a quilt due to timing so he was able to receive his quilt whilst I was visiting.  

After speaking to the chaplains I was invited to visit the Special Forces Canine Unit and was lucky enough to meet all their amazing Explosive Detection Dogs... what a great privilege.  For all the dog lovers out there, yes, I made sure they got as many pats and scratches as I could manage. 

On Monday I headed over to Fleet Base East to visit HMAS Sirius.

Once there I parked at the Gangway for a moment to swap a couple of laundry bags over into the bag I had with me. Before I left home I had received another bag of laundry bags in the mail. Two of them were identical. Where possible, we try not to have any two laundry bags the same, but sometimes twins or triplets pop up so I do my best to make sure that each goes to a different service and a different area to minimise the chances of them ending up in the same place and causing confusion.  This time I decided to give one to the Navy and one to the army and whilst I was standing at the back of my car, folding up one of the bags, a lady walked past.  As she saw what I was doing she stopped and asked if these were some of "those laundry bags".  We got talking, of course, and it turned out that her husband is the XO of one of the East based ships and he had received one of our bags. She told me that they love it and it hangs in pride of place in their wardrobe!   Even as a spouse, her animation when talking about what we do was enough to put a smile on my face.

I continued on based and arrived at HMAS Sirius.   The Command Warrant Officer of HMAS Sirius, Bomber, was the Ship's Warrant Officer of HMAS Harman when we held our dinner there the year before last.   At the end of the dinner we surprised him with his own laundry bag.  He has stayed in touch and always promised to let me know when his ship came to Sydney. 

Did you know that HMAS Sirius is the largest ship in the Royal Australian Navy and has one of the smallest crews on board. 

HMAS Sirius was built as a double-hulled commercial product tanker, MV Delos and purchased by the Commonwealth Government on 3 June 2004. Named Sirius, the ship underwent modification for underway replenishment. In addition, a flight deck was fitted for helicopter operations.
The ship can carry over 34,806 cz (cubic metres) of fuel including 5,486 cz (cubic metres) of aviation fuel for use by RAN helicopters. Sirius can replenish ships at sea by day and night, and is capable of replenishing two ships at a time. She has transfer points for fuel, water and stores.
Sirius is the first RAN ship to carry this name, however HMS Sirius (I) was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1780 as the flagship of the 'First Fleet'. The name was selected because of its historical connections with the First Fleet and the import role the ship played in providing logistic support to the struggling economy. Her motto is "to serve and provide".
Source Here
Put simply, and this is what absolutely amazes me.... HMAS Sirius is able to carry enough fuel to resupply each ship in the Australian Navy for 12 months!!  I find that so hard to wrap my head around. 

True to his word, when Bomber (pictured below) knew his ship was coming in to Sydney he contacted me and extended an invitation for me to join the Commanding Officer (CO) and the  Head of Departments (HODs) for lunch.  That was last Monday.   Once I learned that Sirius has less than 100 sailors on board I determined that I could manage to take in enough laundry bags for all of them. 

Big thanks to the WPH ladies for packing them all up and t the wonderful ladies who made this lot.

I was introduced to a couple of the sailors and each of them was enthusiastic about telling me that they had received a quilt and bag from us. At lunch one of the HODs talked about receiving his quilt and bag.   It really does not matter what rank, gender, service, or age the recipients are.... their face just lights up when they talk about their quilts and bags. 

To say thank you to the CO for her kind invitation and hospitality, I presented her with a laundry bag made by Clarissa 

On Tuesday I headed up to Gosford to give a presentation about Aussie Heroes. Most months I have at least one speaking engagements for Aussie Heroes with one community group or another. I never believed it would be the case but I actually enjoy it.  It never gets old seeing the response to the story and it is very rewarding when someone speaks to me after a talk and tells me that they had expected a "talk about quilts" to be boring but that once they started to listen to the story they became drawn in. 

On Wednesday I was up early to travel down to Canberra. I had to arrive at my Canberra accommodation by 11am so that I had time to unload the car of luggage and the dog, and then change and head back up north to Macquarie in time to join Kellie, the brains behind the By The Left Initiative.   Together we had lunch with the Women's Royal Australian Air Force Association... a women's ex-RAAF association.   If you do not know what By The Left is all about then click on the link above and check it out. 

The first person I spoke to was Mary.  Small world. 

Her niece and her nephew have both deployed and both have received quilts and laundry bags from us. 

Today I was up and out again, this time to head to HMAS Harman for a quick meeting about the dinner this year.   We held our dinner there in 2016 and they could not have been more accommodating and they are very enthusiastic about us coming back this year.    

It won't be long before I release some details so that you can all mark your calendars.... I just need time..... an extra two hours a day would be great. 

Well that is all for me. I have a few more meetings scheduled for the next few days. I know the weekend is coming up but you have to make the most of the time you have. 

I will be back in Sydney on Monday. 

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

Jan-Maree  xx

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