Walking in to the function room at The Rex, I was excited to see the displays of quilts and auction items around the room. When I got to my table, I met CHAP Frank who told me he was nervous as he grabbed my hand. We discussed where we would sit at the table. Apparently the nerves were because he had to get up and speak to the audience. Well, I can say that you absolutely would not have known it. Those of you in attendance can agree that Frank is a very funny man. Such a gifted story teller.
His Welcome To Country was very special. We later spoke about his family and his wife, the “pasty red head”. Later in the evening, we couldn’t decide on which dessert to have so we shared them. He was supposed to have the bigger halves of each but declared that he had cut them so I had to choose….
To my left at the table were Ruth and Jeff. Ruth is J-M’s cousin. We had so much to talk about. I am an education support staff member and she is a teacher who doesn’t seem to be able to retire any time soon. It’s a good thing she loves it! We chatted about the possibility of her travelling in her motorhome one of these days…..
Next to Frank were PAC Mark Willis and his wife Lisa. Mark has supported Aussie Hero Quilts since the beginning. I’ve seen him at every dinner I’ve attended. We chatted about the process of requests being submitted. It is so interesting to hear how it all comes about. His wife Lisa also works in a school and we spoke at length about the demands of the job. We have plenty of variety in our work and no two days are the same. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Lisa makes the most amazing iced cookies. She is INCREDIBLY talented. We both agreed that when we’re creating these gifts for others, whether it be baked goods or quilts and laundry bags, we’re in our happy place.
Of the ten people seated at my table, five of them are recipients of quilts and/or laundry bags from Aussie Hero Quilts. Two of these guests had received a laundry bag from me. To say I was thrilled to share the evening with them was an understatement. MAJ Mitchell and I chatted about the laundry bag I’d made him and how he feels it’s too good to use for his dirty socks and jocks. He might hang it on the wall on display with other memorabilia. That’s fair enough too. Funnily enough, he has a sister who lives in the same suburb as me. What a small world! There was a lot of friendly rivalry going on between him and LEUT Sebastian when it came to the silent auction bids. They were back and forth to the auction table monitoring the situation. Sebastian has also received a laundry bag from me. One of the images on the bag was of snow boarding which led to a conversation about how he’s not a good teacher. This is according to his partner Charley-Maree. Charley is not employed in the ADF but is affectionately known as the Admiral of Home Duties. I love this title! I think I might call myself this….
W01 Virginia received a quilt after being nominated by a friend/colleague. The volunteer who made her quilt nailed it with the Sydney Swans request and other details. Congratulations on 28 + years of service! It was lovely chatting with her about various locations around Australia and her medical background. My daughter recently qualified as a nurse and wants to specialise so this was another common interest.
My Wallabies laundry bag was the first item up for auction and during the bidding, the guests at my table could see I was truly gob smacked at the interest. I’m from Victoria. We’re into AFL not rugby; I don’t really get it 😊. An absolutely fabulous result though which kick started the incredible fundraising efforts for AHQ for the night. Thank you to all who support Aussie Hero Quilts and Laundry Bags.
Of all the dinners I’ve attended, this one was the best (especially since I’d travelled up on my own this time). It could have been the venue, the guest speakers or the fact that it‘s been a couple of years since we’ve all been able to celebrate our achievements together. The company on my table definitely made my night so very enjoyable. Whoever put the seating plan together did a fabulous job! I am now looking forward to the 12th anniversary event next year. Can’t wait!
By Melissa L
And now let’s hear from Lynn F…
Well, we waited for a long time for this event. We suffered delays, through COVID lockdowns, and we rebooked each time things were altered but at last the weekend arrived. Believe me it was worth all the waiting and it was a credit to JM and all her support team.
Arthur and I had three military couples join us at our table plus an AHQ sewer and her husband. This was the first time she and I had met in person even though we both considered each other good friends from the years of email contact. Such an interesting group and I learned so much from them all, and their wives, about their service over the years. I have to say I was so lucky that one, a Chaplain, was a recipient of mine from a couple of years ago, one was the son of another recipient of mine who is now retired, and, lastly, a young man who had received a laundry bag while on deployment earlier this year and he was able to meet the volunteer who made it, on the night. The great joy for me, during the evening, was that JM had asked me to present this same young man with the quilt I had made for him. He had no idea!!! We had been sitting for some time discussing the way AHQ worked and it was clear that he was just delighted with the way the receipt of his LB had surprised him and made him realise that we do genuinely support and care for each of them. When he heard his name mentioned by the MC the look on his face was just marvellous and something I will never forget. Thank you JM for allowing me this marvellous experience.
During the 4hours of the evening along with the meal, the auctions, live and silent, the meeting of some old friends and making some new ones, I was also approached by various other recipients of mine who told me the same emotional tales of the receipt of their quilts under various circumstances and just what each and every one of them feel about the items. Believe me it is powerful. One chap, in particular, was so emotional he made me emotional too, and I determined at that point that I had to try to pass on to every one of the volunteers who were not able to make the trip just how much support and love they all feel. This fellow told me that I had not received a ‘thank you’ from him because he had mislaid my letter. He had written out a thank you and asked his wife to read it to me – and yes, it was very emotional. All of them shared the joy and positive morale boost these gifts gave to them. I can only sincerely pass on to you all that this is the case with every item received by our guys and girls and I heard the same over and over.
So whether you sew laundry bags, embroider crests and personal details as Arthur does, make blocks, sew binding or sew quilts as I do, or any other job undertaken to help JM in the background running and functioning of this organisation rest assured you are well appreciated.
I am like a good wine – I don’t travel well – and I ask myself would I do it again??
IN A HEARTBEAT.
Lynn F 2022.
Lynn with two of her recipients… below and one of the wives..
Great job Melissa and Lynn.
Till next time… keep spreading the word and happy stitching!