Farewell HMAS Darwin…

Written by AHQ

30 December 2015

Well, if ever you could pick the weather for your departure from the wharf for your deployment to the Middle East, today’s weather had to be pretty close to what you would pick.  It was a glorious sunny morning, warm under a beautiful blue sky and with a cooling breeze to keep it comfortable. 

Today it was HMAS Darwin’s turn to leave, her seventh deployment and her second with us supporting her. 

I was lucky enough to travel in with CMDR Morrison and his family to see them off.  CMDR Morrison was the Captain of HMAS Darwin when they deployed last time and his wife Maridy made two quilts for us at the time so I have come to know them well.  

What I have come to appreciate after fare-welling and welcoming home a few ships now is the number of other serving members who turn out to wish their colleagues well.  The Chaplains come out in force.  Of course it is easy for me to pick them out seeing as I have worked with many of them in the past when their ships have deployed.   There are others there as well.

When I go to theses events I walk about introducing myself to people and asking if they have put in a request for an Aussie Hero Quilt.  For those of you who never get to meet a recipient you have to know that when I meet someone who has put in a request I am usually greeted with a big smile, and handshake and a big “Thank you!”.    Today was lovely as it happened that I met a few people who had been looked after by us before, having already received quilts and laundry bags from us on previous deployments.

At one point I was talking a young lady, a pilot, who had already received a quilt  whilst she was deployed to Afghanistan previously.  She had brought it with her this time and told me it was already on her rack on board the ship ready to go for this deployment. I have asked her to send me a photo of her quilt so that I can show the quilter who made it that it is going on another trip.   I had just finished talking to her when this fellow approached me and asked if I was Jan-Maree. Jean B and Jackie J, meet Duck!  You two ladies made his laundry bag and quilt.  He was there to farewell his friend from pilot’s course (the aforementioned female piloe) and made point of coming up to say hello and thank you to me.  He had been a real pleasure to deal with when deployed so it was just lovely to meet him and his little fellow.

 I also met these two… one is heading off to the Middle East and is looking forward to receiving her quilt. The other one (on the left)
received this quilt from Stephanie T during her deployment and she said she loves it and uses it all the time.
Then I bumped into another two girls….. again one deploying and the other who received a quilt whilst she was deployed with HMAS ANZAC, the very first ship we ever looked after at the end of 2012 beginning of 2013.  Two years later she still loves her quilt and it lives on her sofa.  
It was lovely to meet this mother and son duo.  Son is deploying and mum is sewing for us.

I was finally able to meet the Captain.  Catching up with the captain and the chaplain when the ship is deploying just after Christmas is really challenging as there is so much they need to do and so little time and they have the added consideration of Christmas and the associated holidays in there as well. He thanked me for all that we do.  They are very grateful.
There were the inevitable speeches… Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer addressed those attending, concluding his speech with the sage advice…. “write to your Mum, she worries!” 
Our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull was there, telling the crew to “go with the thanks of the Australian people”.
 And finally it was the Captain’s turn to address everyone. 
He welcomed the family and friends along and Aussie Heroes even rated a mention which I thought was very gracious.  He said many things in his speech but one statement he made, which could probably have been paraphrased by many of the crew, was that leaving behind his wife and four children never gets easier, despite his many deployments.

With the end of the Captain’s speech it was time for one last goodbye hug and kiss and then it was time to form up  
And march on board

 All too soon, 
to the strains of the Navy band, 

with the crew, resplendent in their whites and lined up along the rails, 

the ship began to pull away.  Before you knew it they were gone and their deployment had begun.

It is such a pleasure and a privilege for me to attend these special events but when I do what I most want to capture is the feelings toward Aussie Heroes that are passed on to me.  Everytime I approached a crew member today and asked if they had requested a quilt, those that had, made sure to thank me.  Sometimes their family members made a point of saying thank you.  Today the one that stayed with me the most was one lovely mother there to see off her son.  I think she said she has been following us on the Facebook page.    Her son had pointed me out to her and she came up to me and said she just wanted to thank me so much for what we do. At first she shook my hand but she ended up giving me a big hug.  That hug is for all of us.  I am able to go to these events but warmth of the greetings and the depth of the gratitude is for all of us who sew for Aussie Heroes and I always wish I could capture it in a bottle and send it out to each and every one of you.

Time to buy new sewing needles, time to stock up on thread.  We have a new ship to sew for and I will hopefully have their request list really soon and we can get to work.

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

Jan-Maree xx

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  1. Sue Niven

    Wonderful stuff. Be safe.

  2. Outback Crafter - Debra

    Wow what a great day & perfect weather to sail into.
    Thanks for sharing the greetings.


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