Grati-Tuesday 23 June 2020

Written by AHQ

23 June 2020

Hi Team,
Saturday marked the Winter Solstices, I always take that as the official “half way point” of the year.  
And; what a year we have had, one definitely for the history books that is for sure!
Lots of lovely letters and photos this week, enjoy!

Dear Toni,


I would like to express my appreciation of the wonderful laundry bag I have received from you. It definitely exceeded all my expectations.

I understand that the concept for making and sending these gifts is to thank us for the deployment that we are on, but it is you who honour us. It is a wonderful thing to know that people are thinking of us while we are away, and receiving gifts from people back home lifts the spirits of all who receive them.


I think it is a little bit of kismet that you made my laundry bag as while I was never a graphic designer, I had a small insight into the industry prior to joining the navy ( I was only meant to be away for 6 years, and am now in my 18th year). My father has worked in printing since the early 90s . His trade is in pre-press so worked on a lot of the old film printers and plate makers and now in digital plate making. I started an apprenticeship in pre-press at Colour Graphics and AdCraft before deciding to join the navy, but over Christmas still hang out with my Dad and help him do services on the digital platemakers. I’m happy to say the chemicals don’t smell as strong as they when I would help him as a teenager.

I’m curious which part of graphic design you worked in. While I was at Colour Graphics I didn’t spend much time with the designers, but I did enjoy watching all the hi-res images spinning on the big glass drums.


Moving into aged care is definitely a big change from graphic design, and I can only imagine it must be a very rewarding career.


Thank you again for the wonderful gift. I hope the COVID-19 restrictions haven’t affected you too much and the restrictions are starting to ease and let people get out and about again.




Dear Cath,


Thank you so much for the surprise parcel. I was so excited to receive the laundry bag and treats yesterday. The laundry bag was very impressive and will come in very handy., All the treats were very much appreciated but I especially like the snakes as they are my favourite. I love the Tim Tams too but we use them as gifts for the US and Coalition Troops to get extra things done (and eat a few ourselves as well). The coffee satchels were also special as the American coffee here is pretty ordinary.  I hope you don’t mind me replying to you by email as it currently takes 6-8 weeks for mail to get to Australia from the Middle East.


I sat in my CHU (Container Housing Unit- basically a large number of shipping containers bolted together) where I live last night eating the snakes and reading your letter. I enjoyed reading it as it brought a smile to my face but it also made me feel humble and overwhelmed that someone would take the time and care enough to do something like this for Australian soldiers. You and your colleagues are truly special people.


Due to COVID19 we have been quarantined back in Camp.It is currently the first days of summer here with 48 degree temperatures during the day. There is no relief and it is still 40 to 45 degrees overnight. Unbelievably it actually rains sand during the Sand Storms that blow in from the dessert. 

Anyway, I was born and bred in NSW,I have been married for 22 years and we have two daughters, 17 and 14. 

So, once again thank you so much for writing to me and sending me the surprise parcel. I must confess that you taking the time to do this has brought a tear to my eye (a happy tear). As previously mentioned, I just can’t believe there are beautiful and kind people out there like you who care and go the extra yard for others. This email is relatively short compared to your letter, but please be assured it comes from my heart and with sincere appreciation. I know Jan-Maree from Aussie Hero Quilts is unwell and when she emailed me recently about my Aussie Quilt, I sent her a thank you email stating that she and her organisation do such a wonderful job which is greatly appreciated by the troops.  I wish you all the best for a happy, healthy and prosperous future. You definitely deserve it. 


Yours Sincerely,


Good morning Raeleen,

Firstly thank you very much for the quilt and the laundry bag. This is my 9th deployment with the navy however the first deployment to the middle eastern region and the first time I have received these items from aussie hero quilts. All my mail for the deployment arrived on the same day which is interesting noting some items from my daughter and mother got sent as soon as I left Australia. 


Believe it or not I have only ever seen 1 emu in real life, but they are fascinating. I have never seen and not sure what a “zoomie” is. I’ll have to look into it.


I joined the navy at 17 just a month before my 18th birthday. By the end of this deployment I would have been in the navy for 7 years and 4 months, with 5years and 6months at sea in total. I am ready for some time ashore and am looking forward to this coming to fruition upon return to Australia.


Kind Regards,


Gday Raeleen,


First of all I’d like to apologise for how long its taken me to thank you for crafting my beautiful quilt. My deployment turned out to be quite a bit more crazy then I’d anticipated, and then we returned to Australia in the midst of the corona crisis and had to grapple with being isolated in a hotel for two weeks.


I thought maybe you’d like to know a little bit about me, seeing as you’ve been so kind to give me a run down of you it only seems fair! This was my first deployment and I hadn’t met anyone before I rocked up at Sydney Airport and spotted everyone with their green Army dive bags. I couldn’t have anticipated how much I would love the deployment. Waking up every day and going into the office where I produced reporting that had real world outcomes was the most professional satisfaction I’ve ever had. 


Words can’t describe how wonderful it was to receive your quilt. I was struggling a bit mentally at the time and knowing that someone had put so much thought and effort in to making it for me really helped to provide a bit of comfort during one of the most difficult experiences of my life. So again, thankyou from the bottom of my heart. Now that I’m home  the quilt takes pride of place on my couch and I’ve been quick to show it off to friends and family on FaceTime.


Originally when I looked at the letters on my quilt I thought the material had tiny chillis so I’m pleased to hear the fabric actually has Sturt Desert Pea printed on it! I’ve never heard of these before but boy are they pretty! Can I just say as well, your attention to detail on the big Australia in the middle is incredible! 


I am very jealous you have Chester who sounds like a cheeky little dude. Good on you for going for a rescue dog. I grew up with a black labrador called Bella. My family and I got her when we lived in New Zealand before bringing her with us to Australia. I think the thing I missed the most about being deployed was not being able to pat any dogs. We had a couple of stray ones running around on base that liked to lay on the asphalt in the middle of the road in the sun, but a lot of them looked pretty worse for wear poor things. When I got home to my parents house one of the first things I did was go for a big walk along the River where we used to take Bella and pat all the dogs that were out for a walk with their owners. I’m not sure who was happier, me or the dogs!


Thankyou again for my beautiful quilt. I could only imagine how long it takes to choose fabrics, create a design and put everything together. Please know this quilt has been treasured since the day I receive it, and will continue to be until hopefully one day I can pass it down to my children


I hope yourself, your mum and your family are staying safe in these difficult times.




Hello Heather,


Thank you very much for my laundry bag! It looks amazing and the treats were delicious!


It has been a very interesting time for us out here and I’m sure for you as well. Mail days were one of the highlights for everyone to break up the repetition a little.


I read about all the tributes that were going on for ANZAC day back home and it makes us all proud. We were able to hold our own ceremony on-board at dawn and it was beautiful. From what I head we were the only ships/establishments that was able to have a full function because were hadn’t stepped ashore or risked any COVID interactions.


I hope the restrictions have been eased for you guys now and that you’re able to head back out to the shops and swimming as easily as you were before all this craziness began. I’m keen to get home but I feel as if the situation for us will feel very surreal. As in all my friends and family at home have been locked up at home or restricted access to everything for the last few months and we will be getting back home just as things are easing off. I’m keen to have some personal space and not have to share a room with 15 other blokes as well.


Thank you for shopping for me and again for making the best laundry bag on-board!


Hello Ellen and Chocolyn Laugh a Lot Ladies,


First of all can I say THANK YOU for my quilt! It is incredible!


Chocolyn sounds like a fun kind of place to be. Everything looks so green around your area. I used to live down on the Mornington Peninsula and we used to travel a lot to go do water sports in different places. I don’t remember ever making it over to your area but by the looks of the map you definitely aren’t short on lakes.


Have driven the Great Ocean Road a couple of times and it is beautiful. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it to your area before but by the sounds of all the festivals your region has I definitely need to add it to my next around Aus trip.


We are all very keen to get home now and step on land again. I think I miss my backyard the most (apart from my family). I especially can’t wait to start camping again. The weather will go from 45 degrees where we are now down to 0-10 degrees when we get home. Will definitely be getting some use out of my amazing quilt.


I hope that the COVID situation hasn’t interrupted your social life too much. Hopefully they start easing up the restrictions soon if they haven’t already to help you guys out.


Thanks again for the Quilt. Everyone, especially me appreciates the support your group is providing.


Dear Sue,


I am extremely grateful to have received my quilt recently which has gone a long way to brighten spirits whilst being deployed away from family.


I am hopeful to be redeploying back to Australia in the next couple of months to which I have my Wife, son and two cheeky little Dachunds waiting for me.


Thank you again


Best wishes


Gday Bridget,

Firstly, Thank you so much for my lovely quilt, it is fantastic!!!

I have been deployed since 2019 and have been working in a coalition force environment. We have been doing great work over here with the local military. I have particularly enjoyed working with and becoming friends with soldiers from other countries. Overall, we all have similar experiences in our military service but it great learning about their lives back home.

I live on a smallish (22 acre) hobby farm in a small rural area in NSW. I have been serving in the Australian Army for 15 years, I joined straight out of high school. I am married to aschool music teacher. We have a 2.5 year old daughter  We also have two rescue farm dogs; Kelpie and Hungarian Viszla. They all keep us very busy on the farm.

I have had an eventful deployment, COVID is certainly making things very interesting. Overall, I have enjoyed my time here, however I am ready to go home and see my girls.

Bridget, Thankyou so much for everything you do for us. Your support has had a direct and positive impact on moral, and its lovely getting mail and gifts from kind and generous people back home. It really helps with minimising homesickness. I can tell how much work it took making my quilt, and I absolutely love it. I will find a special place in my home to keep it.

Kind Regards,


Dear Sally, 
Thank you so much for my gorgeous quilt, which I have on my bunk and it makes me happy every time I see it! 
My home is in Victoria, where my two adult children live in our home. They are good kids, and take pretty good care of the house and the cat. I miss them, and look forward to going home to see them for a couple of weeks soon. 
HMAS Toowoomba is an ANZAC Class helicopter frigate. We have about 190 people on board for this deployment. (Actually, if you want to know more about the ship, you’d be better off Googling it!) 
Thank you for your lovely long letter with news of home. I was born in Sydney; I lived there until I was nearly eight, and then again, on and off, until my late 20s. So I know well the places that you mentioned in your letter! I am very much looking forward to getting home to winter in Australia. I miss my house and my garden, and appreciate them much more since being posted to the ship! 
I hope that you are all coping ok with being isolated at home. We have little comprehension of just how strict it has been; we have no Coronavirus on board, which is lucky, because it is very difficult to do social isolation when 190 people live in a ship that is only 118m long! Know that I think of everyone back home and pray for you often. Thank you for your kindness to all the people that you sew for. 
Warm regards,

Sent via the AHQ Facebook page:
Thanks to Caroline L for my quilt I received today, very much appreciated!


Hi Bev,


Today I received my deployment blanket from you and your husband. We are at the end of the trip, weary and tiring, receiving your blanket has given me a huge boost to morale.

 Thank you to you and your husband for making these for us all, it is little things like this that make it ok some days. Thank you for the tim tams as well, snacks have become a hot commodity lately. 

Soon we will be on our way back home and everyone is very excited to see their families on the wharf (if they are allowed to be there).

Thank you.

Dear Hilary,

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the beautifully made laundry bag you created. The colours are wonderful and have help added colour to the very bleak accommodation rooms. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your letter and card, especially about the family zoo part. I’m the youngest daughter of 4 and all my older sisters have young families and all have beloved dogs, so whole family visit to my parents place usually ends up with myself coming over the next day to help mum clean-up, while dad is recovering from trying to out drink he’s 3 son in-laws.  

Our role over here is to help protect our Australian and coalition forces. So far, we have provided protection for mentors from Australia, Britain, Denmark, Romania and USA. However, COVID has minimised our movements and we take serious precautions when undertaking tasks and training exercises.

Outside from the military, I grew up in country Victoria and enjoy playing all types of sports (with my favourites including AFL, Netball, Tennis and Basketball), being outside, long catchups with friends and family and have just recently completed a Bachelors of Civil Engineering (Honours).

Just now, I’m a few months in to my deployment and have just a couple to go and once home I’m most looking forward to getting reunited with my friends and family. Even more so that I have a new niece or nephew on the way!

I would like to thank you again for taking the time to create my beloved laundry bag and writing to me.

With kind regards,

Good day Jean,

 I have received one of your laundry bags and letters after completing a rotation on the WA response to COVID19. I wanted to express my thanks to you and to Aussie Hero Quilts.

 I hope that this virus is soon to disperse and that you may continue back to your world travels.

Kind regards,

Hello Margaret,

I hope this email finds you fit and well and hopefully enjoying the much-needed benefits of some normality back into your life. I’m writing to thank you for your generosity, your thoughtfulness and your beautiful work. It was a terrific morale boost to receive the quilt and laundry bag. The most significant part of receiving the parcel was the realisation that somebody back home has taken the time, care and effort to put this together and send it out to an Australian Soldier.

I came to the Australian Army from a Commonwealth country Army in which I served for 27 years. During that time, we were supported by those back home and that support took many forms such as letters, cards and small welfare gifts but never anything quite like the quilt and laundry bag. I’ve been in the ADF for over five years now and I think it’s safe to say the support we receive from the folks back home in Australia is second to none! Your gesture reinforces an important message. During operations both around the world and at home, we represent Australia and the Australian people. We could not achieve this without your support and good wishes. It is an invaluable element of our identity as Australian Service Men and Women.      

 I hope this email, in some small way, reinforces how important your support is to us all. It means a great deal to know there are Australians like you back home and it’s truly heart-warming.

Thank you so much again. Please look after yourself and your family.

 Warmest wishes and kindest regards


Hello Melissa,

Firstly, thank you so much for the Richmond Quilt that you have made for me. It arrived in the mail today.

It has definitely been a trip like no other due to the COVID restrictions in place.

Sharing a 119m platform with 190 people and not being able to get away from them, well, I’m sure that paints a picture of what it can be like whilst we are away.

Today is actually our 100th day without leaving the ship (which is unprecedented). We have so many measures in place to stop COVID getting onboard as something a small as a sniffle usually spreads like wildfire throughout the ship.

The work that you put in and what it means cannot be explained. On a ship, the only place that you have that is exclusively your own, is your bunk. Whenever you need to be by yourself or are missing your family or just feeling down, this is the place you go. For you to assist in creating a space that is personalised to an individual is something that you should be proud of and makes a significant difference to assist in our time away from our families.

I am in a similar position to yourself. I have four children, three boys aged 18, 16 and 11, and a 9 year old daughter that is obsessed with netball and rules the household.

I am married and recently spent my 20 year wedding anniversary away from my partner whilst up here in the Middle East. I also missed my sons 18th Birthday earlier in the year, but these are some of the sacrifices we signed up for and comes with the job. I am appreciative that I still have a job, noting many others lost their jobs through COVID.

I have been in the Navy for 24 years,

Thank you again for the quilt and I wish you and your family all the best in the future.

I have attached a photo of my bunk for your collection.



 Hello Joy,

First of all thank you thank you enormously for the washing bag.
I’ve been an infantryman in the Australian Army Reserve for over a year and a half now and am loving every moment of it. Here’s a bit of context as to how I came into possession of one of your fine laundry bags:

A day before we all set off for another 2-4 weeks of manning the roadside vehicle checkpoints here in WA in response to Corona Virus, we had our unit padre (military chaplain) come down and present each of us with a unique laundry bag.

After some of us had been on those check points for up to 7 weeks straight (myself being one of them) with very few days off this was a large and very welcome surprise to everyone. 

I’ve now returned home and things are slowly going back to normal thankfully.

Though I haven’t been in the army for a great deal of time, I’m sure this laundry bag will see a lot of use in the future.

Thank you again and keep up the excellent work.

Good evening,
I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for the personalised laundry bag I received and for everything you do to honour those who have served. The personal touch of both letters and the effort that went into the quilt will not be something I forget. Thank you for all you do. If I can do anything to help your future endevours, please do not hesitate to ask.

Kind Regards,
Good evening Jan-Maree,

I have just received the amazing laundry bag and quilt that your wonderful team has made and so I wanted to write to you to say a massive Thank You.
Thank you again for the time, effort, and skill you pour into supporting us while we are away overseas, and for the work of Aussie Hero Quilts.

Kindest regards,

Hi Beryl,

 Thank you very much for my quilt. I have received it today and it is a welcome morale booster during this deployment. I have been in the Navy for 8 years have a partner and a beautiful dog. It will get much use by me at home on the couch watching the games once AFL returns haha.

 Thank you for your efforts they are much appreciated by all members who receive a quilt whilst on deployment.


Dear Sue,
Thank you so much for my wonderful quilt. It looks amazing! I have been excitedly awaiting its arrival, regularly checking the Aussie Heroes Facebook page for a sneak peak of what to expect.
 A little about me:
 I am 29, I have been in the navy for almost 10 years now. This is my first Middle East deployment and likely my last as after 10 years’ service I am looking forward to moving onto the next phase of life, whatever that might be!
 I am so very grateful to have such a beautiful reminder of my trip and time served.
 Thank you for all your thoughts and support you provide through Aussie Hero Quilts, it is appreciated during these difficult times.
 I hope you and your family are staying safe in this crazy world we live in.
 Many thanks and Best Wishes, 
Hello Jan-Maree,

 I am just writing to let you know I have received my quilt and laundry bag and your team have produced two amazing items that will be cherished. I am sending a letter through to both of the lovely ladies that made my quilt and laundry bag hopefully this week. I appreciate the lengths you all go to for us while we are away from our families and friends. You are all amazing. 

Kind regards,
Dear Elaine,

I absolutely LOVE my quilt! The colours are exactly what i wanted and the patterns are beautiful. Thank you so much for taking the time in creating this wonderful quilt for me. It has brightened my day and my room 🙂

Thank you for sharing a bit about your life and family. I’m sorry to hear you are unable to visit your children at the present time. I hope the restrictions ease up soon so you can be reunited again. The restriction here are a lot tighter, as we are unable to leave the base or do anything social at all.

Ok, so a little about me. Im 31 years old and am an Air Dispatcher in the Australian Army and have been for 6 years. I live in Rouse Hill, NSW and am posted to RAAF BASE RICHMOND. My boyfriend is also an Air Dispatcher and we live and work together in Richmond. My mother lives close by, but my father has since passed away. I have three older sisters, who all live in Sydney and are married with kids. I have seven nieces and nephews, with one on the way! I don’t have any children myself but i hope too soon.

Thank you again and take care of yourself and your family.

Kind regards,


Dearest Anne,

 I’m the very lucky recipient of your most recent quilt sent out to HMAS Toowoomba in the Middle East, writing from rather rough seas! 

I am absolutely blessed to have received your package in our last mail delivery. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the time, effort and consideration that your beautiful quilt means to me. I know, as you mentioned, that it must be difficult at home to even go out and get all the supplies you need to make them – which makes it even more special. It has been such a highlight for me to receive my quilt in what has been a rather challenging (for different reasons to the ones I expected!) deployment.

 Your letter was so lovely, it is such a strange novelty to hear of what life is like at home, we have been very removed from the whole COVID situation, other than not being able to go into Ports or step ashore (over 100+ days and counting at this point).  

It is great to know a little bit more about you, thank you for sharing with me J It must be challenging to be away from your children and grandchildren, I hope they are all healthy and well.

It has been amazing to see the different array of designs, colours and choices for people’s quilts onboard. It really means the world to us to receive them! My Mother  who lives in NSW has always wanted to quilt for Aussie Hero Quilts, and I think this has been the tipping point for her to finally do it – seeing how much joy it brings people deployed, a long way from home and their families.

 I hope that as this email reaches you, restrictions have lifted enough for you and your husband to be out and about for coffees, tennis and golf.

In the meantime, wishing you all the best.  

Yours aye,

From the Aussie Heroes Facebook page:
Thank you Aussie Hero Quilts (and Laundry Bags) and especially Jan-Maree! 
My friend got his laundry bag today and is seriously chuffed…especially with the Squadron badge! 
The amount of thought and care that has gone into the design and creation is exceptional.
Cheers from this grateful Defence family 👍🏻
Sent via the AHQ Facebook page:
Big thanks to Bridget R and the team for my own personalised quilt and laundry bag. Much respect for everything you guys do, putting smiles on people’s faces everyday! Forever grateful

Dear Jo,

May I please express my sincere thanks to you and the generous ladies of the Coffs Harbour Sewing Team for the time, effort and the sentiment behind your wonderful gift. My quilt reached me once I returned but travelled via the Middle East and enjoyed some time in several helicopters and HMAS Toowoomba before I was united with-it last week.

Both my mother and mother-in-law who fancy themselves as amateur quilters were very impressed with the quality and intricate detail of the quilt. More importantly, my two young boys (4 and 5) have to be dragged out from underneath it whenever they are sitting on the lounge as they pretend, they are having an Arabian adventure with Aladdin and his mates. The cold weather at home also makes the quilt extremely practical when the temperature hovers closer to zero – quite a difference from the very warm Middle East.

During the deployment we remained safe and isolated from the physical impacts of the COVID pandemic but various countries closed their ports to us limiting our logistics visits. Consequently, we were unable to take any real leave from the ship so spent many months either at sea or walking along a quarantined strip of wharf for exercise during our brief port visits. This isolation and extended periods without real respite exponentially increased the delight when your quilts and dhoby-bags (Laundry Bags) arrived in the mail helicopter. With so few distractions, the colour and stories and personalities behind these generous gifts provided a genuine highlight for the ship’s company who proudly displayed and compared them throughout the ship.

We are always proud to sail over the horizon and do our job because of the love and support of the friends and families we leave behind. While we never ask for recognition, the quilts provide a tangible reminder of the generous and considerate Australians we are sworn to defend making our long days and nights away all the more rewarding.

May I wish you and the ladies all the very best and once again thank you for the very colourful reminder of our deployment to the Middle East. I trust you will all remain safe and healthy while we ride out the bitter end of the pandemic.

Yours aye

Hi Michelle, 


Thank you so much for my amazing quilt! I received it on the very last mail run.

Sounds like you have an amazing family. It has been an entirely unique experience, not only as Toowoomba is my first ship but also due to the many changes we’ve had to endure as the world locked down. We haven’t stepped off the ship in a long time! We’re all a bit stir crazy and sick of each other’s faces that’s for sure.

Mail has been the main thing many of us look forward to during this time, all crowding around the tables to see if our care packages from home or quilts and dhoby bags (Laundry Bags) have arrived. My favourite part has been seeing all the amazing items you ladies produce at  Aussie Hero Quilts and the joy they bring to the ship. 


Thank you again for all your hard work on my quilt, 


Hi Pennie

Just a note to say thank you so much for your beautiful bag.  Your kind thoughts are welcome too, but I think you are the one who is carrying the load working in ED in these times.  Hopefully there is light at the end of this tunnel. 



Good Afternoon Philomena, 

 I just received the amazing quilt you made for me! 

The quilt is perfect and you have made it so that when I look at it, beautiful memories come to mind. 

 It was so lovely to read your letter about the life you have lived. I am actually a Medic in the Army so it is amazing to hear about all the places that you have worked in your career. 

Thank you also for my Tim Tams and treats – they were shared around and everyone loved the taste of home. 

 I have attached a photo of me holding the quilt.  

 Thank you again for such a perfect quilt! 

 Kindest Regards, 

                                     Dear Fleur, 
Thank you very much for the laundry bag. It has certainly helped brighten my day. 
 I’m glad you enjoyed the creativity of “surprise me”. Sometimes it’s good to have that freedom and not be confined by guidelines. I very much appreciate the effort that went into making this. I’ll have to show my Grandma and Aunty who are very much into sewing, knitting and other crafts. 
I hope that you and your family are doing well back home in Australia with all that is going on. 
Ps, thanks for the lollies as well. Definitely good for bartering not to mention my growing craving this last week.
Keep spreading the word.

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