Wednesday, 31 July 2013

This time last year - July 2012 by Janine

The July 2012 blog reported that -  

AHQ opened a bank account to receive donations;

A  new sort of request was starting to come in  - not just wives, mothers and mates, but now bosses were requesting quilts to surprise their troops.

A sewing day was held in Penrith

with another planned in Canberra for August 4th by Jan-Maree and Jennie ( the lovely Warrant Officer's wife). They hoped to collaborate on a WWQ during the Canberra sewing day.

This quilt by Liz was a show and tell for the Canberra sewing day

From an idea sent in by Jan, Jan-Maree put together a 'Heroes wear dog tags logo'.

THANK YOU:  A soldier received a quilt from Sue in SA - a total surprise for him, requested by his wife. He was so pleased that he is now passing on addresses to have them sent to friends and workmates - people who he thinks will appreciate the work involved.  He is even encouraging his wife to start making quilts for us once he is home again! He sent this lovely thank you to Sue..

I would like to thank you for my quilt that arrived Saturday. I was quite humbled when I opened the box, as I had no idea what it was. I love what you have created and it will always have a special place in my house.
My Mother also makes quilts so I can appreciate the amount of time and effort that is placed into every quilt. That fact that this is all done on a volunteer bases has just blown my mind.
I will also include some photos for you once I get a chance. This can be a difficult task as my work day most days does not allow for a lot of down time.
I am not sure what else to say as I am still somewhat humbled by the entire experience as I just think of myself as an average soldier doing his job that doesn't need any recognition. This is why it is nice from time to time for someone like yourselves to come a long with a thank you like that.  Again I can't thank you enough for your time and effort.

2012 A farm themed quilt made by Wendy
QUILT SIZE:  Jan-Maree reviewed the quilt size.  'What we are aiming for is a quilt that is wide enough to sit on top of a single bed and long enough to go from under the pillow to the foot of the bed. Also, versatile enough that a big burly fellow can wrap it around his shoulders whilst sitting around a camp fire - a shorter wider quilt will not do this job hence our longer skinnier versions. '

The quilt specifications page above is up to date so it's worth checking there before you begin sewing. You'll also find the wording for the quilt label.
Aussie Hero Quilts are to be 42" wide (or width of normal patchwork fabric) and from 70-75" long.  Please use only cotton batting for versatility and breathability and bindings can be machine or hand sewn. Each quilt must have an Aussie Hero label on it - you can print these using printable paper or you can hand write them using a pigma pen or similar.

Michelle's Aussie strip quilt with embroidery details
FWQs and WWQs:  As AHQ was spreading quilted comfort to our deployed service men and women another area of need came to our attention.  Sadly the month began with the death of one of our deployed men. SGT Blaine Diddams, of the elite Swanbourne-based Special Air Services Regiment (SASR), was killed on July 2 while on his seventh tour of Afghanistan.

Jan-Maree wrote on the blog:  "I have known that I was going to write this post since late last week and all over the weekend I have been thinking about how to word it so that I pay tribute to a fallen hero without causing anyone unnecessary pain.
After news reached the Australian public of the death of SGT Diddams I started thinking about a quilt for his family.  Was it appropriate for us to offer them one?  Would it be of comfort to them?   I felt the answer to both questions was "yes" but I needed to seek approval from "the powers that be", in this case, the Chaplains, as I felt that was the right thing to do. "

And so AHQ took on the privilege of making of Fallen Warrior Quilts.

WWQ by Claire
By the middle of July two more soldiers had been wounded in Afghanistan. AHQ provide Wounded Warrior quilts that are held in the hospital in Kandahar, in vacuum sealed bags, to be given to any wounded soldiers who transit through there on their way to hospital in Germany.  It's important that we don't run short of these so as the quilts are used we sent replacements.

An experienced soldier, recently returned to Australia told Jan-Maree that he just doesn't think AHQ realize how much what we do means to them.  He said, "If I were to be injured and wake up in Germany with one of your Aussie Hero Quilts on me with a kangaroo or the southern cross or the flag or some other Aussie emblem on it that would mean so much!"

April BOM quilted by Kim
THANK YOU:  Carolynn received this great thank you for a lovely pink quilt:  
I was absolutely thrilled to receive the quilt and laundry bag you made for me, in the mail yesterday. Everyone gets excited on mail day, and I was extra excited when I saw the Aussie Hero Quilts label on the box. The pink and black are perfect for brightening up my bunk and making it feel more like home. I also love the patterns of the embroidery across the quilt, I imagine they took a lot of your time to create.
I wanted to thank you not only for the quilt, but for what it represents. We work long hours and live in cramped conditions and the time difference sometimes makes it hard to stay in touch with family and friends. It is such a boost to know that people back in Australia support us and are thinking of us.
I have attached some pictures of the quilt on my bed and the laundry bag (already in use!) so you can see how much it brightens things up.
Again, thanks so much.

The pink quilt

THANK YOU:   I just want to say a quick thank you for your support and care package. I love the Quilt which is currently on my swag and everyone who sees it comments on it. It really did help me out and lift my spirits whilst I was building the Patrol Base Chakajuy.
I am an Australian Engineer (Electrician) working on the front line with my fellow tradesman and plant operators. We are building an Australian and Afghan Patrol Base which is the most furthermost reign we, as an army, have operated in. It takes around 3 to 5 days road move to get out to the Patrol base with a few dangerous obstacles on the way. We are building the base so we can continue to Mentor the ANA (Afghan National Army). The Mentoring is challenging but rewarding in the end.
We have finished the patrol base now and I am back at the Main base in TK that is why I can write this letter to you. Our counterparts are now slowly filtering in so we can get home to our friends and family back to sunny Australia.  Being 3rd generation Army my family are proud of what I’m doing and will be there to greet me when I return.
Once again on behalf of my mates, we salute you for the package and encouraging words.

The young man above, and his mates, slept for a month on the ground in pits with no running water or electricity, whilst establishing this patrol base.  There are other blokes, lots of them, who spend their entire time in Afghanistan sleeping on the ground or on stretchers. 
I spoke to one mum recently who said her son was so pleased that this time, for the first time, he came in from patrol to an actual bed to sleep on - with sheets!  He goes out on patrol for three weeks or so then comes in for a short period, maybe only for a few days, and then heads out again. In those few days he collects his mail, gets in touch with his family, washes his clothes, eats proper food and rests. 
Many of these fellows have protected identity status so their names cannot be published. They don't know us and they don't know if we are aware of protected identity.  While it would be lovely to receive a thank you message from every soldier, sailor and airman who receives one of our quilts or laundry bags, it's just not practical.  Whenever there is a thank you message shared on the blog we all just have to smile and know that it is meant for all of us.

2012 Made by Judith
THANK YOU:  I came into work today and was surprised when I saw a package on my desk. When I opened the package I was even more surprised when I saw that it was the Aussie Hero quilt, laundry bag, beanie and also some goodies. There was also a letter from Wendy L & Nan.
I would just like to extend my greatest thanks for the package and not only the quilt, laundry bag and goodies but also the letter. I will really cherish this.
Can you please thank Wendy & Nan for the wonderful package. It really made my day. Thanking you again from the bottom of my heart.

We soon had a a request from someone who saw his parcel and would love to receive something similar. 

2012 Made by Judith
THANK YOU:  As promised, please see attached photos of me VERY happy with my quilt and laundry bag! (Not sure where my hair and make-up people got to, they were supposed to be there ...). Thanks so much for all your hard work.

Whoo hoo!
Quilt made by Wendy and Denise

An exciting event for AHQers was the discovery of these flag panels in more than one shop. They featured in quilts and laundry bags for months.

2012 Made by Fran
And a very happy laundry bag

2012 Made by Edith

And lastly, July 2012 saw an exciting 347 follows on Facebook. 

Thanks for all your work in putting this together Janine.  It is amazing to look back and see what a difference 12 months has made.  Today we are up to 1361 followers!

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

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Grati-Tuesday and Happy Mail

Hi all.  Tonight's post is a bit of a mixed bag.  

Some great news! at least for those living in Brisbane.

East Coast Fabrics in Brisbane have created a special offer just for Aussie Hero Friends.  If you go into any of their three stores and tell them you are purchasing fabric to make an Aussie Hero Quilt they will give you two free fat quarters.  How awesome is that?  I went there last weekend when I was in Brisbane and I wish there was a similar shop down here!  You Brisbane girls don't know how good you have it!

There are three stores and the locations can be found here 

Thanks so much East Coast Fabrics!

Edit -Angela made one of her rare (as if!!!) visits to East Coast Fabrics today and sent me a picture of the fat quarters she collected - as she said, perfect for HMAS Newcastle's replacement.

Here is another good deal of a different sort.

Look what I collected from Stephanie this morning.  A big bunch of quilts ready for binding.  There are twelve quilts in this pile but there were fourteen.  I have already dropped two off for binding.  And I dropped another ten quilts off for Stephanie to quilt for us!   Thanks so much Stephanie.

There is not much in the way of Happy Mail today so it is probably not a problem that we are combining the posts tonight.  First up these laundry bags were delivered by Dasha last week but I forgot to photograph them for last week's happy mail so you get to see them tonight.  The fabric was donated by Dasha's friend Joyce.  

I particularly like the one with the rick rack on it.

And finally, how about these awesome blocks of the month.  These ones were made by Karen B.

I am trying to resist the temptation to put lots of these together into the one quilt.  I think they should be peppered throughout other quilts.  We will see.  They are the same size as the wonky log cabins from last month and the BOM block planned for this month so we should be able to combine them.

Just a note on format.

Blogger seems to be a little unreliable when it comes to font style, size and colour.  I used to publish all the posts in ARIAL font as I thought it was the clearest to read and I would change the colour for each different thank you message or topic so that it was easy to tell where one finished and one began but I am finding that no matter how many times I change the details and save Blogger does its own thing anyway, randomly!  Grrr.  So bear with me if the presentation is not what it should be.  Did I tell you I was once a military Staff  Officer to a two star general!  Let me tell you, sloppy presentation is not good!  Please let me know if this font is too small to read.

For the last bit of business before we move on to the thank you messages, how about some dates for your calendar.

August 11 - Sewing Day at Penrith Patchwork.  
BYO sewing machine and lunch.  All materials will be provided.

August 19 - Laundry Bag Making at Hobbysew Kings Park
BYO Lunch and sewing machine.
IMPORTANT places are limited to around 20 and are filling up.  You need to register as if it were a class.  Also e - SOME materials will be provided but if you have fabric that is suitable for a laundry bag please bring it along.  If you are a not sure what you need to bring then please check the Laundry Bag Tutorial here

August 22 - Sewing Day at My Home
BYO Lunch and sewing machine.  All materials provided and if you need to know where to come please email me or PM me on Facebook.  I can't manage a sewing day for a couple of weeks as my son is doing his Year 12 Trial Exams.  Don't want to poke the bear!

There are lots of lovely messages to read tonight that demonstrate that what we are doing is making a difference.  Often I can share the messages without needing to go to the author for permission but sometimes I think I need to and the following message was one of those times.  This is the response I received.

I do not mind at all if you share my email on your web site. The individuals that support us need to know how special we feel to have this support. 

My father served in Borneo in 67' & 68', he told me along time ago that when they came back to Townsville they marched down the Main Street while people hurled abuse and through pigs blood on them. A lot of the Soldiers took it personally and openly wept as they marched down the street. I feel so embarrassed that fellow Australians could act in such a manner. 

It's so refreshing to see now that as a country we can stand behind those that have put the political interests of our government first in their lives - whether it's wrong or right. 

Good afternoon Granny Smith (that would be Rita M), 
First off I would like to say a big thank you for making my quilt. It arrived yesterday in the mail along with some packages from my wife and was a big morale booster. When you are on a trip like this its the little things that keep you going and receiving mail is one of them. I have seen some of the other quilts the guys have received and everyone is loving them. I had mine made for my son, so I will be sending it home shortly as I won't need it at the moment. Its a steamy 35 degrees at least up here and my family back in NSW is probably freezing. 

Once again a very big thank you for making my quilt and I'm sure you will get a lot more thanks from everyone else receiving theirs.
Best Wishes and kind regards,

Dear Melissa,
Thank you very much for the Laundry Bag, the people in Australia who go out of their way to send handmade gifts to soldiers serving oversees amazes me.
To take time out of your busy lives to give a soldier a little taste of home is fantastic.
You are the heroes.
Once again thank you.

Hello Rita M, 
I am responding to your letter and to thank you for your kind gesture of making a quilt for me. I must say I am most impressed and a number of the boys are envious. The work that is being done by yourself and from the AUSSIE HERO QUILTS is fantastic. It is really pleasing to see that so many people are giving up their time  to support what we are doing over here.

I have, as of today, three weeks remaining and then I will be returning home to XXXXX after a 7 month stint. This is my second stint here in under a year, so I am not real keen on coming back any time soon.
I am looking forward to getting home and chilling out and relaxing for a while.

Once again thank you very much.

All the best, God Bless

Hi Jan-Maree, I have received my laundry bag and I love it! Thank you very much for organising them, it is greatly appreciated. I will use mine all the time. It makes it much easier to find my washing!

Thanks and Regards,

Hi Rita M,
Thank you so much for the quilt you have made and sent me.  It is magnificent and a perfect size. I can see me using it for many years.
You are right it is hot here but not as hot as we expect later on in our deployment when we venture further north, expecting temps of about 55 degrees C.

Anyway thank you very much once again for the quilt, I can assure you it will get a lot of use.

Kind regards

Dear Su,

I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for the quilt!! It's made such a happy difference to my little space here in Kandahar. I hope the attached photo works. The Aussie Hero quilts and laundry bags are very well received around here. What a great idea!

Haven't had a day cooler than 43 degrees for the last 2 months, so it's exhausting working in the sun and dust all day. Having a nice, fresh bright space to come back to rest makes such a difference. Thank you again!!

Kind regards,

Good Morning Jan-Maree,

        Thank you so kindly for the Quilt and Laundry Bag. It is much appreciated and brightens up my room and day.   Please pass on a big Thank You too all members that send us lovely gifts, it is always a good feeling receiving mail.

Kind Regards 

You need a little background for this one.  Sue received an email from his fellow and this is part of what he wrote 

"I have seen some of the laundry bags  that you have made for the troops. Unfortunately I seem to be in the wrong place when your parcels arrive. I would like to let you know that  the laundry bags that you have sent over have certainly put some colour into a sometimes drab place. Also the individuals are very keen to show off their bags to the others, all proudly commenting that the design they have is the best.

The purpose of this email is twofold. Firstly, to thank you for all the time and effort that you and other ladies like yourself put into these bags and your efforts are appreciated. Secondly, I was hoping that you might be able to indulge a special request for me.

 As you can see by my name I am male, however, I was wondering if I could place an order for a special laundry bag. If possible could you make a laundry bag that is 'girlie', with princesses or fairies in the design. In the end I would give the bag to my 8 year old daughter. I know the purpose of your work is to brighten our time here and I would be happy to cop all the ridicule, knowing the smile it will put on her face when I give it to her on my return home."

Well, Sue had the right fabric on hand so a suitably pink fairy  laundry bag was dispatched in Sue's normal expedient time.

Hi Sue and Jan-Maree

Just a short note to let you know that your parcel of laundry bags arrived in tact. Thank you very much for the 'special' laundry bag you made for me (my daughter) with the fairies design. She will absolutely love it. Impressed that the other focus is on cupcakes and tea parties. She regularly has secret tea parties with her fairies.

I opened it up in front of all my staff but did not tell them the story behind it. and . When I proudly  showed them the laundry bag and they realised it was pink and had fairies, they seriously  thought I had received the wrong one and but when I told them I had actually ordered it they were in fits of laughter.  So this laundry bag has brought a little cheer to my staff as well.  

You will be pleased to know  the other laundry bags have already found good homes.
Thank you once again and to all the other ladies that give up their time to brighten our lives just a little.   

Does that not just make your day?
Hi Joan and Robin,
I am sorry for not emailing you sooner, I received your laundry bag and it is so beautiful! 
Thank you for the time and effort you put into it. 
Kind Regards,

One for Margaret R

Jan-Maree, I'm just writing an email to let you know that my quilt has arrived. It is so beautiful and I am very happy with it. I would also like to add a very big thanks to the people who made them for us, their time effort is appreciated.  I hope to see more people in the future volunteering as it really makes our trip worth while when we see great gratitude from people like you.

Once again, very many thanks

Dear Jan
Thank you very much for the bags, my fellow platoon members and I are very grateful for your generosity........................................................................... Thank you again for the bags Jan and its always a pleasure serving our country.
Your sincerely

Hello Kaye, 
received the quilt you made for me, many many thanks! I love it. It's nice to know there are other people back home thinking of us and doing such nice things for us too. 
It has been amazingly hot up here some days getting over 50 degrees, so I'm biding my time until the weather changes to rug myself up in the quilt! 
We are just over half way of our deployment so thoughts of home start to creep into the mind more than they used to but still a long way to go.
I can't thank you enough for your generosity with the quilt, and the biscuits you sent - the boys and I engulfed them at first chance! Much appreciated. 
Hope all is well at home for you, and the Australian winter isn't getting to you to much. 

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks so much for making me the quilt. I received it today and it's fantastic! I am an avid surfer and have been missing it a lot lately, so it's going to remind me of being home and catching some waves. The muesli bars were also well appreciated as I am running low! You must have read my mind.

I am a helicopter pilot on board Newcastle flying the S70B2 Seahawk. We've had a lot of hot flying days up here, with the average temperature being in the high 30's with above 90% humidity. Thankfully we have great air-conditioning in the helicopter, which makes life a little more bearable.    I've managed to get in some pretty good flying since we arrived in the Middle East, including landing on a US aircraft carrier which was probably the highlight of the trip for me so far.   We've now been away for 3 months, which means we've finally passed the half way mark. I imagine that the second half of the trip will go a lot faster than the first! The ship has visited some exciting places since we arrived.  We have a few port visits to go, so we're all getting to see a bit of the world that we otherwise probably wouldn't get the chance to visit.

Thankyou again for the lovely quilt. It's greatly appreciated!

Hello Evelyn,

I have just received the quilt #274 "Hulk" you made for me. I must say I was very pleasantly surprised on how good it is. Thank you very much.
This is currently my 4th deployment to the Middle East,  being positioned in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the support from people such as yourself that make me feel proud to be over here supporting our mission.  My eldest son has followed in my fondness for comic hero "The Hulk" so I have no doubt that I will have to share your quilt with him. Thank you again for the wonderful quilt it is much appreciated and has a great home now.


And you probably all know by now that I am a hopeless softie so it will come as no surprise that this is one of my favourites for tonight.  It relates to one of Nancy's quilts.  Nancy never puts her name to her work and sends them out under a cover letter I have written which is why people always respond to me for them.  Of course all messages are passed back to Nancy to enjoy and share with her co-workers.

Good evening Jan-Maree,

I have just received one of your fantastic quilts. Thank you very much for your gift and your well wishes. I must say that I got a little teary when I read the note inside. It is always like that for me when someone comes up to me out of the blue and says thank you for no other reason than they are proud of the men and women who serve our great nation, especially when it is the little ones. As much as we do, it is our families that do it a great deal harder than us due to our absence. They are the true unsung hero's in our lives and the ones that get the least recognition. I will be holding my quilt in its original packaging with your note and giving it to my daughter for being such a strong and good girl for her mother while I am away. I hope you don't mind.
Once again thank you for your lovely gift. I am sure that it will be in our family for years to come.

And finally another one for one of Nancy's quilts.

Hi Ladies

I received your quilt in the mail today and was very excited.  We work with a lot of soldiers from other nations and they were very impressed.  The first thing we did was have a show and tell about all the different animals on it.  We were all acting like a bunch of 4 year olds, very funny. (Nancy's quilts are quilted in Aussie Animal designs!)  I just love the bright colours.

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

Monday, 29 July 2013

Old Bags and the Dag who sew with Rags!

At last I can share more of the very special story that is 
"The Old Bags and the Dag who sew with Rags!" 

Back in March this year I received an email from Margaret and this is what she said.

"I work in Aged Care in Murwillumbah NSW as a nurse looking after residents' clinical needs.  I also do the sewing group once a fortnight.  They have their little shop were they sell the items that we make but they would love to get involved with your wonderful sewing group with helping out our service men and women as a lot of them know all about being away from home comforts.  I have men that sew as well and I'm sure this would give them a very meaningful contribution towards your cause." 

Of course I wrote back to Margaret, welcomed them to AHQ, thanked them for getting involved and sent the required information to her.

I get lots of inquiries from all sorts of people; some amount to nothing and others follow through but I never know which will be the ones that actually contribute.  As luck would have it I had another up date from Margaret telling me that they had just about finished making six laundry bags and finally I got word that they were nearly ready to send.

I received this message from Margaret

"making the laundry bags certainly made them feel worthy...they chatted along about how proud they were giving something back to the people that protect our country and others...
Our Don has put a story about it in the open door news letter as well...

we hope to finish them off at our next sewing I will let you know when they are done....and thank you for allowing these lovely people to join your cause..I will be in touch..."
Without warning I received this photo graph one Thursday night with the following explanation.
"we finally got 6 bags finished..the two ladies standing are the 100 yr olds...they are so proud doing these bags for our heroes ..."

Well, I don't know how you would have reacted but the night I received this photo the sand was flying everywhere and my eyes just kept watering.   I just had to share the picture so instead of waiting for a blog post I shared it immediately on Facebook.  The page went wild by Aussie Hero standards - over 8700 page views, 290 Likes, 83 Shares and 46 comments.

They even received comments and thanks from serving members - past and present recipients and their families.

Here is one of those comments.

"Well done Ladies.  Rest assured your work is truly appreciated.  Kind regards from one of the many satisfied customers in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan."

And another happy customer

"I received one of these in Afghanistan.  So grateful to these beautiful ladies.  Touches the heart.  Thank you."

And a message from a Mum

"Absolutely awesome effort!!!  I am the proud Mum of a son who has just returned from his deployment and who received a wonderful gift from AHQ and the efforts ar truly appreciated by the recipients of these wonderful laundry bags and quilts."

At the same time I had just been emailing a particularly nice senior army gent about his quilt and I thought he would enjoy the story so I shared it with him.  He took time out of his busy day to send this message back for me to pass on to them.

"While I am already putting my laundry bag to very good use over here in Afghanistan, I just wanted to thank you all for your great support to the Australian servicemen and women over here.  I understand that the war in Afghanistan doesn't enjoy widespread popularity back home, and that's OK, but it is photos of the Old Bags and a Dag with their laundry bags, that makes every difference to an Aussie Digger far away from home.  So, thank you for your support, thank you for caring, keep making laundry bags and all the very best."

I copied all the messages on Facebook and sent them to Margaret so that she could share them with the residents and this was her response.

"you can not imagine how all the residents feel after last week...they are all so touched by the whole thing,,,they were telling their family members to go on that facebook thing and have a look at what people were of course I was very busy writing down your site...This was just the best thing to lift all the residents spirits,not just the sewing group..some want to donate money towards the sewing because they can no longer see well enough to ex service man, Ken,  whom is also on the RSL board here..along with other ex service personnel has donated money towards fabrics and Ken said the club will match that on Friday....this is just amazing... " 

The laundry bags were sent off to Tarin Kot and were received by this group who sent back this photo and the following message.

Dear Margaret, 

This email is to thank Elsie, Bertha, Audrey, Nellie, Bertha (Bebs), Harold and yourself for the wonderful laundry bags which were sent to Multi National Base Command - Tarin Kot (Rotation Six) earlier this month.

I've attached a photo of the recipients of the laundry bags.  The sixth laundry bag (Bebs) is being kept for unit history and will belong to the unit.

Its the kindness from such people as yourselves which make our deployment go so much quicker so its with heartfelt gratitude that I pass on my appreciation on behalf of all MNBC-TK.

Once again, many thanks and appreciation to you all.

Kind Regards,

Next the group decided to take on a quilt and asked me for a name.  The lucky fellow did not know what he was about to receive.  If I have my facts right, most of this quilt was designed by Harold and I think it is just brilliant!  I am just jealous that I didn't think of this myself! 
What a classically Australian Quilt!

L to R..Audrey, Nellie, Harold, Bertha 101 this week, Elsie 101 years old, Eileen & Beb's

Here they are at work - note the visitor who walked in off the street this day.

Meet Ken.  He is on the RSL & sub branch board,they donated $200 from each branch..

At last the time came to send off the quilt and laundry bag to our recipient.  The parcel was accompanied by a letter from Margaret sharing a little information about each of the contributors some of which I will share with you here.

This has lifted their spirits so much to be able to give back to such a worthy cause with them now living in aged care facility.

"Elsie turned 101 years young just recently.   Elsie was born in Grafton NSW with 6 sisters and 1 brother.   Elsie married and had 7 children,  2 young age.  For over 60yrs she and her husband had dairy & cane farms.   Elsie loves fishing & still enjoys doing so.  She has a 60year old coke bottle fishing line which she still uses. Will not use a rod.  She has been a part of the sewing group for 5 yrs.

Bertha Beadle is turning 101yrs young this week. She had 4 brothers. Her Uncle Sam served in WW1.  She was 7 years old when he returned home.  Bertha said she can remember that day as if it was yesterday.  They saw him walking through the farm paddock in his uniform, they all ran to meet him. All of his family was there to welcome him home. Uncle Sam bought home 3 silk scarves for his 3 sisters.  She has been a part of the sewing group for 5 yrs.

Audrey  is next.   Her father served in WWII and she remembers him coming home after spending a long time in hospital overseas with a badly injured leg.  Audrey feels very proud to be able to give to the troops overseas working very hard to protect us and other countries.

Nellie was born in Murwillumbah, lived on dairy & banana farms which her family worked. She has 2 brothers and 1 sister.  Nellie was a sewing teacher at school.  

Bertha R likes to be called Bebs.  Her husband to be was a prisoner of war in Germany, they then lived in Holland. They moved to Australia 1952 and lived in Sydney where her husband was a surgical technician.

Harold is all of 88yr young.   For 12 years he was in the CMF.  For 7 years of that he was platoon sergeant in the 41st Battalion at Murwillumbah.   Most of his life was spent around the Tweed area, cane farming.  He has 5 daughters and 1 son.   Harold came in to the Aged Care Facility suffering ill health.  He joined the sewing group and has not looked back.  He is a great contributor to the group.  He now has a sewing machine set up in his room and Margaret cannot give him enough sewing to do.  Since finding the sewing group his health has improved immeasurably.  Making these laundry bags for Harold is one of the best feelings for him, to be able to give to fellow troops knowing some of the conditions that you all endure."

A she said, Margaret works at the Aged Care Facility but she also goes in on her day off to run the sewing day and spends time at home cutting out and preparing for their days.  She has to make sure that Harold is occupied and she does all his cutting out for him.   I can remember her telling me on the phone once that that Harold was complaining that he would be unemployed but 9am the next day as he had sewn up most of what he had prepared!

At last the quilt was sent off and we had to wait a little longer than normal to hear it had returned as the recipient had a couple of weeks leave around the time it arrived.  Finally Margaret and the residents could wait no longer (and I know just how they feel) and so I emailed the recipient to see if the quilt had arrived.  Yes it had and doesn't that smile speak volumes.  

Here is one of the latest messages I have received from Margaret.  They are well on the way with their next quilt and another one waiting in the wings!

"we are moving along very well with quilts and bags...not telling how many - sewing group want it to be a surprise, God love them.  They are so proud doing this project.  Lots of chatter about the troops while we are sewing.  XXXX quilt will go off tomorrow for quilting - it looks amazing.  Nellie and I are the creators of his quilt and it has made her feel so special.
ON A TOP NOTE,Elsie was overjoyed when she received the birthday cards from you guys,she said it made her day.."

I arranged a birthday card for Elsie from the group who received their laundry bags in Tarin Kot and sent one myself.  I will do that for everyone in AHQ......................who turns 88 or more!  :-D

Well, I hope that makes your day.  It made mine.  

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