Friday, 21 January 2022

Weekly Dispatches - 21st Jan 2022

  Happy Friday!!!

Hope you have all had a wonderful week. 

It is great to think that the following dispatches are on their way to make a difference in the recipients lives. Adding a bit of colour into someones life may sometimes seem almost insignificant, but as we all know, can make the world of difference to a person in need of a morale boost!!!

Well done everyone, a great collection!!!!

Please enjoy!!!

🌟🌟🌟

This year so far we have sent off 46 quilts 

and that has brought our total since we started to 14165

We have also sent off 61 laundry bags, bringing our total since we started to over 33005 laundry bags.

Lynn F and Wendy F

Bridget R

Bridget R

Clarissa L

Clarissa L

Robyn S

Robyn S

Robyn S

Toni F

Wendy V

Ellen N

Lynn F and Wendy F

Robyn S

Robyn S

Robyn S

Leanne M

Bev C

Cheryl F

Ruth S

Ruth S

Ruth S

Sue N

Sue N

Sue N

Tracie S

Shirely D Front and Back

Ruth S

Ruth S

Ruth S

Ruth S

Ruth S - 2 Laundry Bags

Philomena

Heather B

April W

Bridget R

Bridget R

Carolyn M

Carolyn M

Cheryl F

Kathy W

Keryn M

Keryn M

Pennie T

Pennie T

Pennie T

Toni F

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I think we can all agree, it was a great week of dispatches!!

Happy Sewing Everyone!!!!












Wednesday, 19 January 2022

An Update from Jan-Maree

 G’day all,

With 2022 getting underway, and with me now back at the helm and looking after the Request List, it seems the perfect time for me to update you all on my adventures.  As many of you will remember, back in May 2020 I let you know that I had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable form of blood cancer.  I started chemotherapy in June/July and continued on into August. I had three rounds of chemo and should have had a fourth but that was cancelled for two reasons. Firstly because I developed nerve damage in my feet (not uncommon) and secondly I had an attack of acute myocarditis, essentially a serious heart attack. That put my treatment back three months or so.  Fortunately, the day after the heart attack I was sitting up in bed eating breakfast feeling fine and I only continued to improve. Phew!

There were a few hiccups and delays along the way but finally on in February 2021 they began the process of collecting my own stem cells so that on 10 June last year I entered Westmead Hospital to have a stem cell transplant.  One day they killed off my bone marrow and then next they transplanted my treated cells back.  I then spent three weeks or so in hospital waiting for the worst of the side effects to wear off.  Lets just say, they were not the best three weeks of my life but hey, they were no where near as bad as I had expected either.

Luckily for me I was discharged 24 hours after hospitals locked down and banned visitors. Phew it was good to be home in my own bed, with my own food!!! As unpleasant as it was, the procedure was a success and I am now in remission.   I feel completely normal and I am now working on regaining some fitness and strength and also want to lose a lot of the weight I put on over the last 18 months (bah humbug!)

On average remission lasts 2-5 years but it can last longer so I am not thinking about it too much. I have too many things I want to do and I am determined not to waste time thinking about what may or may not happen in the future.

I currently see my haematologist/oncologist once a month and still take some medications to keep the Myeloma at bay. Other than that I feel perfectly normal and am just get on with getting fitter, losing weight, growing my hair back, running Aussie Heroes and trying to avoid contracting COVID.

Through all this time, Aussie Heroes has managed to keep going, largely thanks to an awesome team of new admin volunteers.  Clarissa, Catherine, Lisa K, Alex, Courtney, Chloe, Veronica, Pam, Ben, Emily and Tegan.  Crikey I hope I have remembered everyone because they have all been awesome and without their administrative efforts since June 2020, Aussie Hero Quilts would not have been able to function.

Thank you to those of you who sent me your good wishes on my return to managing the Request List and all those who sent me messages and good wishes from time to time since I announced my diagnosis. Every message was very much appreciated.

Cheers for now

Jan-Maree xx

PS I am being ably supervised during my recovery by my little mates, Charlie, Bonnie and Maisy.

Charlie 


Maisy and Bonnie 

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Grati -Tuesday 18th January 2022

                                          Hey Friends,

Hope you are all keeping safe and well. Same old same here in my world, working from home keeping me busy. Last Friday though, I took a day away from work, and celebrated my best mate marry his dream girl. It was such a special day, and very surreal being able to celebrate a wedding in the midst the chaos. 

And it felt so great to be with friends and family, celebrating togetherness, love and happiness.

So on that note, a sprinkle of some more happiness coming up... 

 ....

Hello Angela,

I am one of your recipient's mum. I went up to Queensland for our first visit since he got out of quarantine the other week on his return from the Middle East. 

Your letter and his amazing quilt are just beautiful. Like me being the 2nd eldest of 16, so my son has lots of cousins, and has 3 girls of his own, who live with their mother. His dad and I have caravanned around Australia since 2010 but now only have a 14ft one so easier to handle. We moved to NSW around 5 years ago and live in a resort. We love being near the beach but aren't swimmers. We do play golf and bowls. 

My dad was also a Rat of Torbruk.

Thank you and all the beautiful people who do this great work.

                         ....

Dear Aussie Heroes ladies (and gentlemen),

I trust you are all well and looking forward to a wonderful Christmas and hopefully a COVID-free 2022.

This has been an amazing two years. I never cease to be amazed by the generosity, good nature and skill of our Aussie Heroes men and women. I've even been given a laundry bags and a quilt of my own. Just last week Jan-Maree gave me a quilt to present to our retiring staff Sergeant after 43 years of service. There are now fewer than a dozen staff sergeants left in the Australian Army. 

The recipient was overwhelmed by the quilt which he describes as 'perfect'. Like so many people have said to me, about quilts and laundry bags, he can't believe you would do that for him.

By rough figures, you've allowed me to hand out over 5,000 laundry bags since COVID began (as well as a dozen or so quilts). Every bag has been individual and obviously made with love and great skill. 

I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It has been such an enormous priviledged to distribute these bags.

Whenever we have more soldiers, sailors and air men and women coming through the induction process, I tell them about Aussie Heroes and how much you understand what they do, and how much you value the difference they're making in keeping our state safe from the virus. Most are amazed to think anyone appreciate the work they do - like most Australians' we assume we do a job and that's it. But to hear they're loved and appreciated really melts even the strongest hearts. 

I really wish I could video the responses I've seen - they love their bags. Some of hem have said they won't use it - they'll frame it, others pick a bag to remind them of their wife, girlfriend or mum. I hope you know what a profound ministry you've had on the lives of so many. I've seen really hard and tough warrant officers well up with tears.

I know most won't write or communicate back to Aussie Heroes but there is enormous appreciation for what you have done and continue to do. 

So I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

The Defence's response to COVID has finished (at least for now), and we're prepared for the bush fire or flood or other disaster season ahead, but I pray the Omicron variant of the virus doesn't cause too many problems going forward.

It's so good to have normal access back into Victoria, Queenslanders are so happy to be going home, and Western Australia can't wait to return home, hopefully before February and the whole country will be back to normal soon.

It's been an amazing time, and I always feel like Santa when I had out the laundry bags. Whenever we have another group coming through, I've put the bags on the tables up on the front of the auditorium in several piles and they come down and it's like Boxing Day sales at Myer - and everyone finds a perfect bag for them. 

Aussie Heroes is such a valuable ministry and service to our ADF members. Please keep sewing. Your work is greatly appreciated.

I thank you again, and apologise that some of you won't receive this note, and it'll get to you after Christmas. However, please have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. I pray 2022 will be a wonderful time for all of us.

I pray God blesses you richly for your open handed, open hearted generosity.

Your faithfully

                         ....

Dear Cath,

This letter is long overdue. I wanted to make sure I was feeling refreshed and completely undistracted, to write a proper letter, rather than just a quick note. You sent me my gorgeous laundry bag, and divine quilt back in July, while I was over in the Middle East. 

It was quite a miracle that they reached me as quickly as they did, because mail has been known to take 6-8 weeks in recent months. I have just returned home to QLD having completed two weeks quarantine at the Air Base overseas followed by another two here in Australia.

It is so good to be surrounded by the tropical, lush greenery here in QLD, after beige dust, where I was based. Anyhow, let me get back to the laundry bag and quilt. The laundry bag, as you know, arrived first, along with your lovely letter. Even now, as I write this, your heartfelt thanks brings tears to my eyes. It felt like a warm loving hug, when I first read it, and as I read it again now.

I was a civilian nurse in Victoria for over 20 years before I joined the Army as a Reservist nurse. Every time there had been an international or national disaster, like the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 or the Victorian Black Saturday Bush Fires in 2009, I had wanted to get on board to help, but discovered that it was mostly the military that provided assistance. My brother, is also an Officer in the Army, so I had already had exposure to the Military. So in 2009, I commenced the process of applying to join the Army, as I was tired of sitting on the sidelines, and wanted to contribute my part. 

By the time I was commissioned, I was already 39 years old. I like to think of myself as a late bloomer. Perhaps the ironic part, was that I hate early mornings, hate running and hate the cold... I still do! Thankfully now, that I have hit 50, they mostly let me walk, and the weather is mostly hot rather than cold up here in QLD. The early mornings however, still happen, are are only tolerated with coffee!

I never actually planned to go full time in the Army, but I picked up a lot of extra work at my Reserve Unit, and soon discovered that working full time in the Army (which for Nursing Officers, mostly consists of personnel management and administration, rather than clinical work) was actually much easier than working shift work in the public health system. The hours in the unit were actually more consistent and much shorter hours than the hard slog I was doing in the hospital, except for when we were out field on exercise. I was able to remain in Victoria for several years at the one unit, so it was an absolute blessing. I don't miss night shift at all. 

The main reason for staying down in Victoria, was because of my parents. I have two brothers. The oldest (8 years older than me) has lived overseas for 30 years. He is recently widowed and has no children. My second brother (4 years older) is married, with three primary aged children, and has pretty much been off doing his military career for over 20 years. Being the only daughter, single and a nurse, somehow I couldn't escape the reality that my parents were ageing and I wanted to remain near them to support them. I had been fortunate enough to be living only two houses away from them for years.

This meant that my Spoodle could go and spend her days at 'Grandpa and Grandma's House' while I was at work... and then each evening, when I finished work, I could drop in and have dinner with Mum and Dad and then I would spend the evening sitting with Mum, chatting and watching TV with her. Dad was never really interested in TV, so he used to take the dog for a walk or sit and read a book.

In 2017, there was a big flu epidemic in Australia. That July, we had a big military exercise called Talisman Sabre and it was while I was away, that I was taken aside and informed both mum and dad had the flu and were in hospital. Mum passed away a week later, with me, by her side. Thankfully, dad recovered from the flu. Years later, dad now 92, is still living in the family home, pottering around the garden and taking the dog for walks. So with a plan of having additional supports for Dad and me visiting every three months to restock the freezer I made the big move to Queensland in 2019. I left my dog with dad for company.

One of the things I noticed acutely, and that at times hit me to the core while I was on deployment in the Middle East, was that apart from my Dad, I had no one. All my colleagues would receive care packages, from their families, and I knew that if my mum had still been alive, she would have baked and sent me fruit cake, and written to me constantly.

But then in July, I received a wonderful package, a gorgeous laundry bag, and a letter full of care and love, written just the way my mum used to write and describe things. 

I loved how you explained how you got involved in sewing quilts and the explanations behind all the pieces of fabric you chose. Mum's first job when she left school as a teenager, was as a seamstress. She always wanted me to learn to sew properly. I did some sewing classes in high school, but I couldn't stand it, because I always hated cutting out the patterns and tacking the materials together. So time consuming! Of course, I regret it now.. as I dearly wish I knew how to sew and make adjustments to poor fitting clothing!

Your quilt arrived in August. What can I say?! I was a little nervous opening the package. I didn't want to be disappointed if I didn't like it and I desperately wanted to like it. I needn't have worried. It was beyond anything I could have hoped for. Every choice of fabric, colour and stitching is perfect. I adore it and still do. It took pride of place at the foot of my bed and was perfect to pull up over me for my nanna naps!

I don't have the space at the moment, but one day, should I have some wall space in my home or work office. I will display it on the wall, so I can continue to show it off.

Thank you Thank you.

So as you see, your quilt, laundry bags and letters gave me far more joy than you could have imagined. They very much reminded me of and me feel like I was receiving a warm hug, just as you had hoped.

All the time, labour, cost, thought and care, involved in putting them together, was not lost on me, and has been appreciated far more than you could have known. It will continue to be loved and treasured in the years to come.

With many, many thanks, and wishing you and your loved ones a very special Christmas this year, and blessed new year ahead.

Love.

                         ....

Hello Marilyn,

Just wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you very much for my Christmas Card and Laundry Bag.

I have been deployed in the Middle East, since August and during my deployment have had many exercises that I was not expecting on a deployment, the latest being a positive COVID test before Christmas.

Nothing to worry about, I did not get sick and am  now back at work.

I received your present the other day, when I got out of isolation, and it brought a huge smile to my face, when I saw what you came up with for the design.

I love it.

I have worked in Defence for approximately 3 years now and I have 2 boys aged 24 and 19. Home is NSW.

Thank you very much for all that you do, and the time you take to make these wonderful gifts for the Service Men and women on deployment. They truly are appreciated.

Thank you again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

Kindest Regards

                         ....

Hello Gayle,

I hope you had a nice Christmas with your family and are able to have a nice break with no COVID around your area in Queensland. Here in NSW, we had a very quiet Christmas, just my boyfriend and I, which was nice. We're both back at work now, and having holidays later in the month instead when things are a bit more quiet.

Thank you for sharing a bit about your life. I can't wait for the day I can have a garden of my own. I have tried my luck with house plants in our apartment, however they often die from lack of light. I did buy a Bonsai tree for Christmas, I hope I can keep it alive.

Thank you for my quilt and laundry bag. I love the colours and print. We got them just before Christmas when we got back from sea, which was a nice surprise!

Have a great New Year and thanks again. 

                          ....

Dear Jo,

I just wanted to start by saying thank you. When I asked for a Parramatta Eels quilt I wasn't sure what to expect but you have absolutely nailed it. Unfortunately neither of our teams were able to prosper last year with 2022 now here it could be time for the 2001 Grand Finals rematch between the eels and the knights, fingers crossed.

I joined the Navy back in 2015 straight out of high school and after completing a year in the cold winds of HMAS Cerebus, I was shipped up to the Northern Territory.

In June 2021, myself and a fellow sailor decided we would road trip across the Gibb and see the Kimberly's for ourselves and although our cars took a beating it was well worth the bumpy ride I can assure you. The highlight for me was the helicopter ride up to Mitchell Falls and a small little watering hole called the 'grotto'.

I can't thank you and Ruth (for my laundry bag) enough, as you've brightened my day.

Cheers.

                          ....

Dear Ruth,

Thank you very much for my wonderful laundry bag! I love the colours and the attention to detail. Gestures like this make us feel very supported and extra proud to be representing Australia.

I very much appreciate the care, time and effort that went into this, it's very special.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and were able to spend plenty of time with your family.

Warm regard

                         ....

Dear Sue and Family,

I hope things are well with you during these hard times. I have moved house since the last card that I sent. I am now living in the ACT and I am really enjoying it.

I am posted to a unit that conducts Ceremonial Parades around Australia, and hopefully overseas for Defence. My quilt still hangs in my house with the greatest honour and I look at it everyday and think how much I appreciate it.

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Lots of Love.

                          ....

Good Morning Pam,

We received the quilt cover and laundry bag, thanks for that. 

It was pretty nice too.

Regards

                          ....

Good Evening Shirley,

I would like to take the time to write back to you and extend the most heartfelt thank you for the amazing quilt and laundry bag you made for me.

I enjoyed reading your letter and I would like to apologise for my late reply. Prior to receiving your parcel yesterday, our last mail was delivered in September. I received 9 parcels in total and was pleased to find my quilt and laundry bag.

I am glad you had a way to keep busy during the lockdowns. 

I was born and grew up in Victoria, my mum and sisters still live there. I left Victoria when I joined the Army and have not been able to return since 2008!

I always love reading about Australian family's military connections. During WW1 and WW2, it truly did effect so many people and it brings me so much pride that people can tell their stories today, to remember those who sacrificed so much.

I am a Signals Corp Army Captain and this is my fourth deployment. I started my career in 2008 when I joined the Army as an Infantry Soldier. I spent my first 9 years as an Infantryman, deploying in 2010, 2012 and 2015/2016 (over Christmas). When I got home from Middle East, I put in my application to attend the Royal Military College to become an Officer. I completed 18 months training and received my first preference to Signals Corp. 

I am currently deployed, which is a 'non-warlike' deployment to Middle East. Our role is to observe the peace treaty signed after the war in the 60's. Neither country agreed to having the UN involved so a Multinational Force and Observers was created. We serve a similar role as the UN.

I was fortunate enough to visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery over here. It was a very moving experience and looking over the terrain the men would have had a tough time defending against the Axis.

This will be my second Christmas away from my family. I have a wife and two sons; aged 11 and 5. We have a family home in QLD. Next year I will be posting to HMAS Adelaide and will spend the next 2 years posted away from them.

Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to quilt the two pieces for me. I am grateful for the support you've shown me and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. 

Regards

                          ....

Good Afternoon Aussie Hero Quilts,

I am a Major in the Australian Army currently posted to and studying at the Indian Defence Services.

I am writing very belatedly to thank you for my quilt. I was deployed to the Middle East in 2018-19 and received one of your magnificent quilts.

The reason behind my late thank you is the location to which I am serving is quite cool, compared to the rest of the country, and I have taken my quilt out to use.

Kind Regards

                          ....

Good Morning Wendy,

I hope this email finds you and your family safe and well throughout these interesting times.

I was able to open up the quilt yesterday as I had only just arrived in Victoria earlier that day from deployment. I have to say that the craftsmanship was very impressive and my mother captivated by the intricate skills you utilised to make the cherry blossoms on the quilt.

As you may know I was deployed as a Military Psychologist and it was a very challenging but a life learning experience. Subsequently, I do find myself rather tired and grateful for having the chance to return back to my family in Victoria. 

I sincerely wish you all the very best for what the future may hold in both your personal and professional endeavours.

Kindest Regards

 ....

Have a fabulous and safe week until next time friends and Happy Stitching!