Grati-Tuesday 2 June 2020

Written by AHQ

2 June 2020

Hi Everyone, 
 Lots of lovely letters this week from our grateful recipients – all of them are special, but I think you will agree that the first connects you with the recipient so much. I have been sitting here trying to write a preamble for a while and the words escape me.
So I am just going to let them speak for themselves.   

Dear Bridget,

I’m currently sitting in a rickety little chair with this absolutely phenomenal quilt half out of the box in front of me. I’ve finished your letter and I’m not ashamed to say there’s a significant lump in my throat and a threat of moisture from my eyes. 

Thank you, a thousand times, over for this absolutely marvelous creation. I genuinely don’t have the words to tell you how much I love it already, and I haven’t even fully pulled it out of the box. I wanted to thank you before I got too emotional about it. 


We’re at the very end of the road here. There’s no Australians in a more isolated location than us and it very often feels like we’re forgotten about by people back home. They’re all convinced the war here is over and are surprised to hear there are still a few of us here. 


To have someone like yourself spend the time required to make this wonderful quilt for me, I just don’t have the words to express my gratitude. You’ve made me feel appreciated and remembered in a way I didn’t realise I wanted. 


Everything here is neutral colours. Brown dust and dirt is everywhere, grey coloured rocks mixed in amongst it, while the snow on the very tips on the grey/black mountains is still visible. Even our room is dust coloured. Right now, due to the melted snow and regular rain for this brief window of the year, we’re got some beautiful red poppies, poppies that match the very bright, rich red of this quilt. 


Now I’ve got something colourful too. The red and white, the Australian flag, my regimental badge; all of it will give genuine life and colour to our camouflaged and dusty world. It almost makes one blink, so bright and loud it feels. And It feels like home. 


That’s the emotional dam broken.


I can’t thank you enough for your generosity. You’ve absolutely brightened by day, my week and my deployment. 

I’ll take a photo with it and attach it. I’ll also take a photo tomorrow in daylight. 


Thank you too for your lovely letter regarding yourself and your family. If your son is still looking for work, I can recommend a phone number for him. It’s 131901, and we’d be happy to have him as a soldier! Jan Maree will tell you how much I love this life. 


Thank you again, on all levels and counts,

Dear Toni,
Thank you so very much for my beautiful laundry bag and goodies. I love the bright patterns and the butterflies are gorgeous, I love it. It is especially nice to know it was created just for me. It is almost too stunning to put dirty clothes in it, but I am definitely enjoying using it over here. So many of our deployed troops have them now and bring them whenever they deploy, which is what I intend to do.
 I am a Captain in the Army and a Psychology Officer. I am posted to a  Unit which is the operational unit within Psychology Corps. I joined the ADF in 2013 after emigrating to Australia from Scotland in 2008. I had to wait 4 years to get my citizenship before I could join but I am so glad I did. The wait was worth it. I love my job and helping to keep our troops mentally healthy and functioning is a rewarding career. Before I moved to Australia, I was a Civilian Psychologist with the British Army so I have always been interested in supporting the military. I am sure you found working as a therapist in nursing homes, community care and now as a disability respite worker rewarding too.
I am a mum of three children and married to my husband , who is also an Officer in the Army too, although he does more of the war stuff than me ! I enjoy working in the relative safety of a health facility, even if it is in a warzone!  My eldest son, turned thirteen while I am here.  I was very sad to miss such a big milestone birthday but managed to Skype him on the day to watch him open his presents and blow out the candles on his cake. My middle child  is 9 and my youngest is my daughter , who turned 8 in the same month as well. Again I was lucky enough to get to watch her birthday by video calling her. I am very much looking forward to getting back home to them and having a second round of birthday celebrations to share with them in person. Obviously due to the COVID-19 restrictions back in Australia neither of them could have a birthday party or even leave the house on their birthday so once things are back to normal and I am back with them we are planning belated parties, which will be such fun.
Our family loves camping and we tend to go camping a couple of times a year during school holidays. We also try and escape to warmer climates so generally head up to Queensland for a few weeks at a time. Last year we went to North Stradbroke Island.  This year in January we did something a little different and went to the Gold Coast and stayed at a Big 4 campsite near the Theme parks rather than our usual ‘roughing it’ camping trips. Now that all three of the kids are tall enough to get on the majority of rides, the plan was to have a fun filled family holiday and treat the kids to the magic and fun of all the theme parks knowing that I would deploy for 6 months this year. We even bought them the multi park passes and fast track entry as Christmas presents. Unfortunately on day two of our break I was recalled back to support Operation Bush Fire Assist and within 10 hours of the phone call I was on a plane back to NSW to collect my field kit and then flew straight to Victoria. I was in Mallacoota and Orbost to help support the locals and also the ADF members who were supporting the first responders with clearance and engineering tasks. I was there until the end of January and then had a short amount of time  at home before deploying the Middle East.  My family stayed and finished the camping trip so at least the kids got to have lots of fun, although I was obviously sad not to experience their joy. So 2020 has been a big year for our family and when I get home  I am really looking forward to just spending time with my children and husband and having a bit of a break from deploying to support everyone else. Time to focus on them and give support back to my wonderful family for the rest of the year!
Thank you for all that you do. You are a very special lady. You have no idea how much our troops value and take comfort in receiving their Aussie Hero Quilts and Laundry Bags. It is almost like a deployment rite of passage now and they are cherished by their owners and treated as family heirlooms. So thank YOU for YOUR service to us. 
Normally I would have sent a handwritten thank you note, however we have been advised letters and mail is taking over three months to get back to Australia so I opted to send an electronic thank you so you know I received your parcel.
I have included a few pictures so you can put a face to a name and see your handiwork in location!
I wish you all the best and hope life returns to normal for you soon. Stay safe and well in this strange world we are currently living in. 
Happy Mother’s Day 
Warm Regards,


Bonjour Penny,
Merci Beaucoup pour ma belle couette les details sont  exquis

What a lovely Surprise I had today when I got this fantastic box. The quilt is Lovely and the laundry bag was very pleasant surprise I really wasn’t expecting it.
I really appreciate your hard work and the creativity which goes into these beautiful creations.

They really brighten up my room. I missed Mother’s Day and my birthday but feel very spoilt now I have the quilt in my bed and the laundry bag hanging on the wall hook

Getting such a fun chatty letter was a real bonus. Because of COVID it is very likely we will not be allowed off base to do any shopping or sightseeing so parcels are a real boost.
Au revoir mon ami et rester en securite lorsque les Restrictions sont levees.

Dear Georgina


Thank you so much for the gorgeous quilt and taking the time to write a note and tell me a bit about yourself and family. The quilt was absolutely beautiful and arrived at exactly the right time. I was due to be on a leave break this week but due to Corona Virus travel restrictions I was unable to go, so it was timely to get a parcel with a welcome surprise.


Today, I have been in the Middle East for 7 months which is a long stretch away from family and friends particularly in these worrisome times. I know things are very uncertain everywhere at the moment but the restrictions on travel mean that most of us will be away even longer. This is due to quarantine requirements for our replacements on arrival and for us on our return to Australia. At this stage, I don’t think I will get home for a few more months yet . It is quite hot over here at the moment and I miss the ability to potter in my garden so returning to my room each night and seeing your quilt will bring me much joy. It is great just to have some colour to look at which is a nice change from sand and beige!


I know how much work goes into these things and I am very grateful that you and the rest of the Aussie Hero Quilts show your support for our deployed personnel in such a way. Please also thank your mum for the centrepiece of the quilt. It is particularly apt that it had its origins in ACT and that is where you are from, because that is where I also currently call home. I am due to return there  on posting on completion of my deployment. 


I have been in the Army for 32 years and whilst this is my second deployment to the Middle East it is my first Aussie quilt. I will treasure it always and it will provide good memories of my time here.


I hope your son in the ADF had the same rewarding career that I have enjoyed. Best wishes to you and your family and please stay safe and healthy during these crazy times.


Hi Ellen,


I’m an army reserve member with 11/28 Bat in Western Australia.  Thank you so much for the laundry bag, I have seen others with laundry bags and always want one myself, but never knew where they got them from.  It has made my last trip away much easier, the old coles bag was not up to the challenge. 


I too am an army brat, I have spent time in many different schools all over Australia and America and PNG.  I loved it as a child, my most vivid memories where living in Portsea and Queenscliff while father was at staff college.  I have a passion for the ocean and I think this is where it came from. 


My partner and I live in WA on an acre and our day jobs vary, during summer we own and operate a watersports business, its more fun than work.  During Winter I run my own  firm.  The completely different business keep me keen and active, probably why  I’m in the army reserves.


Once again thank you for the laundry bag.  I love it.    If your ever in WA and down south we have an acre and the caravan is always welcome. 


Regards and thankful,



 Thanks so very much for the quilt – it absolutely fit the bill!


As you can probably imagine, the virus has turned where I was into a very dangerous place, but luckily (and unfortunately at the same time) I was returned to Australia earlier than expected (about a week before the lock down began), so your quilt arrived after I had departed. I’m disappointed I couldn’t share it with my  room mate, who came to learn very early on that I am very much a keen artilleryman. As he said, it was great to see someone almost 20 years into their career who still sees their hobby and their work as one and the same. I’m very blessed in that regard. (It does drive my long-suffering Air Force wife mad though, seeing all these red and blue zig-zags about the house!)


I’ve yet to find a place for the quilt; I want to show it off but preserve it indefinitely and with a child and two dogs the placement is problematic! I think your idea of using it for watching TV with the little one might just be what is needed, if my wife lets me place it strategically on the couch. We might find it becomes a game of turning it around every time we walk past ‘my’ recliner. In any case, rest assured I will find it a suitable place in our married quarter (and all the ones that follow) so your craftsmanship can be on full display. I’m surprised you have only been quilting a short time, but your work is fantastic – maybe suturing and quilting have more in common that I thought! I hope you enjoy it as much as you enjoyed receiving your own in 2015.


Thank you so very much not only for my quilt, but for all the work you’re doing with Aussie Quilts. If everyone ends up with a smile on their face half as wide as mine, you’re making deployments much brighter for everyone.


As a side note, thank you for all you and your health services community are doing day in, day out, in hazardous and uncertain circumstances. I don’t use the term ‘hero’ lightly, but in all of this turmoil and trouble, you have all been superb ambassadors of what Australians are all about: getting on with a difficult task, armed with good humour and Herculean work ethic. Thank you so very, very much. I hope there’s some respite for you all at the end – whatever (and whenever) that is. 


Stay safe.



Hi Pennie,

 Thank you so much for the laundry bag!! The quality of the bag is amazing, you are a very skilled sewer! (I got a sewing machine for my 21st and love to try and make clothes and the like, although they don’t always turn out the way I’d hope. But that only comes with practice.)

It is nice to have something like this to make everything seem a little more homey, and as you mentioned, way less likely to lose my washing amongst the masses of it. I love camping/caravanning and the outdoors, snow, and plants/gardening, so your fabric choices were perfect.

 And you’re definitely not wrong about the landscape here, sand/dirt/mud for as far as the eye can see, so hopefully if I’m successful in growing some sunflowers or veggies they will also help to bring some colour to the place! (And if not I will have had fun trying to grow them.)

 Also thank you for the snacks/treats you sent. The food here is very dull American so it’s nice to have something that reminds me of home and times around the campfire with my family and friends.

 Thank you so much again for your package and for taking the time out of your very busy schedule (with your hobbies, work and grandchildren) to make me something special. I respect what you do for us as I know that everyone gets very excited when a package comes, it really makes people’s days (as it did mine today).

 Thanks again


G’day Fran,


I am writing to thank you for the quilt, it is excellent and exactly what I was hoping for! It will be in my family for generations to come! I plan on giving it to my 2 year-old son for now to use on his bed.


I have just returned from my overseas deployment. We are currently posted to the NT so we understand what you mean by hot and humid weather! Although it is the dry season now which makes it  the best place in Australia!


A bit about us – I am an Officer in the Army, my fiancée, manages a venue at the  airport, and we have our toddler,  who loves cars and motorbikes!


Thank you again for the quilt, it is absolutely perfect!


Yours sincerely,


Hello RosaLin!


I wanted to say a big thankyou for my gorgeous laundry bag. It made my day and when the chaplain showed us the laundry bags, everyone had a huge smile on their faces. We had heard of the bags and quilts for our friends deployed oversees but I don’t think anyone was expecting them for an Australian deployment so close to home. It certainly made us feel special and it also made the work we were going to do feel more important.


I loved your comment about the Scots picking a winning side, but sometimes it doesn’t matter if you are on the winning side or not, just the right side. I actually have a keen interest in Scotland as it is one of my favourite places to visit and where my partner’s family is from. I play for both the ADF and Federal Police Pipes and Drums as a snare drummer and will hopefully be playing in the next Edinburgh Tattoo.


I come from a military family too and am very glad you keep connected through your son and this program. You must be incredibly proud of them. Central- Western NSW  is also such a beautiful place and I would love to hear more about your lovely family and your adventures.


I have attached a couple of photos and did a little DIY. I couldn’t bear writing my name in permanent marker on such a pretty bag. Thankyou once again.



Hi Georgina .

Received your quilted bag in Sydney. Thankyou very much.

I’m a 30 year WO2 in  medical Corp and am working full time in army health during this crisis.

Love the bag. Thanks heaps for your service and that of your husband and son. 



I recently received a quilt made by yourself on behalf of Aussie Hero Quilts.

Wow! This is a well-made quilt. I especially like the appliques of the mountains which I miss dearly and the colour scheme. I forwarded some pictures of the quilt to my wife  who is a friend of Jan-Maree Ball’s and a sewing enthusiast. She was also impressed with the craftsmanship as where my two children  (who I also miss dearly).

Like you I had a more private ANZAC day and participated in a dawn service via a live feed video.

Please be sure to thank the others who worked on this fantastic quilt including Marilyn who I assume did the fine squiggly stitching. I appreciate it very much and thankyou for the wagon wheels which my room mates and I promptly devoured.



Hi Bridget,


 I’m reaching out to pass on my thanks for the quilt you individually crafted for me.


Up front – what you ladies do for us soldiers, sailors and airmen is absolutely incredible. It means so much to know we have fellow Australians at home thinking of us when deployed, and more so taking your own precious time to craft a bespoke gift for us.


Thank you for informing me a little about yourself, and how you came about being a part of this amazing initiative. Your family sounds lovely and I wish you all the very best, especially through the challenges everybody is currently facing at home.


The quilt is just perfect and it will be with me wherever I go into the future when away from home. It will also be a poignant reminder of why I do what I do, and what I have to come home too which is an amazing country full of amazing people like you.


I’m in my 25 year of service, and to date this will be one of my most precious keepsakes I have collected over the years.


Thank you for your service of 40 years as a nurse and the selfless act that is, and I hope you enjoy your well-deserved retirement.


Many thanks and best wishes Bridget, again thank you.

 Kind Regards


Su, thanks for the remarkable quilt and informative letter.

 I am from the Northern Territory, I have been in the Defence force with ARMY then AIR FORCE over the last 35 Years, it’s a possibility I may have met your daughter during my time, but like most other people as you get older the memory starts to go and can’t remember everyone.

 I have been a keen aircraft enthusiast from a very early age and have been flying model aircraft for 40 years.

I am married and have 7 childrenOne is still at Primary, 3 at high school, others have left school two older ones still hanging around, eldest now married and living in Tasmania with our two grandchildren, 5 years till I CRA (Compulsory Retirement Age) from the Defence force at close to 39 years of service.

 I have been following the Vimmy’s escapades for many years and have two different books on the subject, it’s a very interesting trip they made that’s for sure, I couldn’t imagine being over water and praying that the motors keep going.

 I need to come south someday (Bucket List) and see the old girl in all her glory.

 I plan to build a model on this aircraft at some stage but I am having problems getting a set of plans to build off, I may have to draw some up myself (retirement job perhaps).

 I received a laundry bag a few weeks ago with honey bees on it, there was no letter with the laundry bag so I couldn’t thank who made it by way of letter, any chance you might know??

 I bet you are very proud of your daughter, I know my parents are of me. My Father was Air Force as well and my Mother was ARMY so I suppose you can say I followed in their boot steps, none of my children have shown an interest in joining up.

 I have a SA member with me and have given him the FRUCHOCS, he says thankyou.

Again I thank you for the quilt, it is fantastic, better than I could of expected, thanks for making it as I wanted, you nailed it. 

I will get my wife to sew on a rod pocket when I get home and it will adorn a wall, image attached of quilt on my bed. 

Kindest regards


A thank you photo for a great quilt made by Bridget.


To Georgina


I am writing this email to thank you for the quilt I received yesterday. When I was told I had mail I knew that I was receiving the quilt but when I opened the package it exceeded all of my expectations and the moment I saw it I knew you went above of what was required of you and I felt truly appreciative as you stated the fluff was a nightmare I cant even imagine . 

The designs and colour  are fantastic so I hope you will pass my thanks on to Angus for choosing them I am very thankful for you and the Hero Quilt association for this gift I will hold on to it for as long as I can.



Good Afternoon Roz,



This morning I received the incredible quilt that you made, and just wanted to send you an email to say thank you.


The quilt is perfect and Is nicer than I could have ever imagined. Thank you for taking the time out to make it, as I  am sure a huge amount of effort and work went it to it. As I  am sure you remember from your time here, it was a massive morale boost, and a number of people in the office received their quilts or laundry bags this morning.


We truly appreciate all the effort that goes into the organisation as a whole. Aussie Hero Quilts is an incredible organisation, and I am certain that every defence member feels privileged  to receive such a special gift.


I would also like to thank you and your colleagues at the hospital for all that you do, especially given the current circumstances.


We are definitely thinking of everyone at home, whilst in our little MER bubble.


Thank you again for the amazing quilt, my intent is to frame it when I return to Australia and hang it next to my husbands in the study.



Good afternoon,


I have just received my Aussie Hero Laundry Bag. I absolutely love it.

I sent a picture of it to my daughter and she asked if she could take it to her day care to show it off. Who was our mutual friend- they were spot on with what I love.


Yes it has been quite a wild trip for my MER deployment so far. Had a very busy time working with all the trauma and then switching straight over and sorting out COVID-19 here  has been a distinct change of pace.

Anyway hope you are getting enough rest with work- and your daughter enjoys her time back at school.



Thank you so much!


Hi Ellen,


First of all thankyou very much for my quilt and laundry bag, they are awesome!  With all the COVID-19 restrictions in place I didn’t expect anything flash, and fair enough if that was to be the case, but you have done an outstanding job and I am truly grateful.  Also thankyou for the book, lollies, and Tim Tams in particular which were destroyed in no time by the crew and I at work 😉


It’s good to hear you are enjoying retirement, including sewing for AHQ and doing some travelling in the caravan.  My parents have been doing the same for a few years now and have seen a lot of Australia that way.  My Dad is a Vietnam vet, one of my brothers is ex-RAAF, and we have several other relatives on both Mum and Dad’s side who fought in WW1 & 2, two of which I went and visited their burial sites in The Somme region of France a few years ago.


A little about myself, I have a wife and 2 young boys at home, 4 and 2 in August.  They are at a very entertaining age and are really becoming great friends, I miss them everyday but luckily my wife sends me regular videos and pics and we skype a few times a week.  I’ve been a RAAF Firefighter since 2002, however I transferred to the Reserves in 2007 when I joined Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, so I’ve been a Reservist from 2007 til present.  On a side note both of my brothers and cousin are Firefighters with QFES also, and my Uncle did 35 years with QFES, so being a Firefighter is definitely in the family.  I am really enjoying the opportunity to deploy with the RAAF and do some full-time Military service again.  The previous 6 months leading up to my deployment was quite busy as you would know with the fire season we had back home.  In my 13 years with QFES it was one of the biggest multi-agency/multi-state/country events I’ve been involved with.  I’m not sure how Falls Creek fared but hopefully you were spared any hardship during the fires.


Once again thankyou so much for the quilt and bag, they will be long lasting memories of my time in the Middle East, and thanks to everyone involved with Aussie Hero Quilts, everyone here appreciates the work you do greatly 🙂


All the best,



Dear Pennie,

Thank you so much for my beautiful gift, I absolutely love it and it brought so much happiness to my day! You are incredibly talented, the patterns of the birds and bush was gorgeous, I love it!

Wow, thank you so much for your service! I can’t even imagine how crazy your days must be, especially during this crazy time! My Mum was a nurse for about 30 years so I have a massive amount of respect for the work you do. How you find time for your “fabric habit” (very funny!) is very inspiring, to keep following your passion even though you must work so incredibly hard!

Thank you again Pennie, for this wonderful gift, it is honestly amazing and I really really appreciate it and your beautiful letter.

I wish you all the best, thank you for the work you do, and I hope once this craziness is over you find plenty of time for your Fabric Habit!


Dear Barbara, 

Thank you so much for my magnificent quilt, it must have taken you a great deal of time to complete. Your design is a lovely work of art and has captured all aspects of my deployment. All the men and women serving in the Middle East appreciate the hard work you ladies invest into producing such lovely quilts and laundry bags, and we can’t thank you enough for the support you provide.

I have spent 37 years in Air Force and this will be my final deployment and the last time I will have to spend time away from family for Service requirements, as I am retiring soon. My wife and I currently live in NSW and we plan to settle there in our retirement.  

Thank you once again for your gift, it will be displayed in our house and will remind me of my 2019/20 deployment in the Middle East for years to come. THANK YOU!


G’day Irene,

I am the recipient of your outstanding 85th Aussie Hero’s Quilt.
Let me start by saying the quilt you have made for me is truly above and beyond my expectations of what I would receive. The sheer amount of effort, energy and emotion you have put into it for myself is heart-warming. I completely understand as to why you would want your first ever quilt back from the auction.

I have visited 
S.E.QLD region before and I understand as to why you have lived there for so long. If I am not mistaken, it  was also affected by the national bushfire crisis last year. I do hope you weren’t affected by them. Queensland saw one of the worst bushfire seasons its ever experienced on record, and I had friends from the Sydney region deploy up north to help in those fires before the ones in Sydney sparked up. 

The design that I requested that you kindly accepted is one that holds very close to my heart. During my training to be ready to deploy with the Army at the end of last year, the fires back in my home town hit very hard.

The amount of devastation I witness was beyond what I would of thought. The Save the Bilbys  Fund would of very much appreciated your support during this fire season. I commend you for your selfless action with Save the Bilbys, Breast 
Cancer Services and of course the local children ward in your local area. As much as the Aussie “Digger” gives an identity to the wider Australian community, it is people like yourself Irene that give and promote the Australian Spirit. Thankyou.

Your home studio sounds like a very busy place with all your fur babies, I 
can’t imagine you getting so much work done! I would be distracted playing with the pups. My wife and I have a fur baby ourselves. Being newly married last September we adopted a rescue. He is a Kelpie cross and let me assure you he is very very affectionate and loves to play a surprise on mum and dad. We have only had him for the year but I can not imagine life without him. 

The quilt you have made for me holds a lot of emotion, having that this particular fire cost my community greatly, and at times my family stress beyond comparison. This is something I will hold close hand hand down to my future children for years to come. 

Once again I thank you for your efforts, your letter made me smile throughout and made me extremely happy. 

I wish you well in for future and please stay safe during these uncertain times.

Best wishes,

Hey Shirley,


This is a courtesy email to let you know that I have just received my lovely quilt. The workmanship is exquisite and is far beyond what I’d imagined it to be. The passion, workmanship and detail put into it is very obvious and it is no surprise that your work is on display in exhibitions around the country. You must be so proud of your skill and talents as you have every right to be.


I do see the theme you were going for and the koalas you used was a lovely Australian touch. I’m afraid to use it as I fear it would get ruined, so I will instead keep it as a memento and it will forever serve as a fond reminder of the appreciation, I felt in receiving this. I’ve received a lot of positive comments on it so I know that many others here think it is special too. Thanks too for the snacks you included, with the large pack of Tam-tams worth more than gold on deployments such as this one.


I’d also like to thank you and your friends at AHQ for the amazing work you do. I know I can speak for the rest of my shipmates here on HMAS Toowoomba, as I have personally witnessed the many smiles your packages have brought to us. This Coronavirus situation has made it more difficult to leave behind family and friends and it has added a whole new level of complexity to the work we do on this deployment. So, the many tokens of appreciation we have received, such as yours, are greatly welcomed by all.


I hope you and your family stay safe with all this Coronavirus craziness going on in the world. I’ve heard that restrictions are starting to be relaxed now, so hopefully life gets back to normal in the near future and you can get back to golfing. Based on how much you love golf I’d bet that you can’t wait to swing those golf clubs again. I didn’t even know you could live on a golf course… 


Thanks again and you and your family take care.




Till next week, keep stitching! 


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1 Comment

  1. Sue Niven

    Wow! That is a lot of lovely letters.


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