With each new ship that deploys to the Middle East I learn a little bit more to make managing their requests a little easier and efficient. With ANZAC we did not know how absolutely woeful their mail would be and I also did not know that a number of the crew would be leaving the ship early to make way for less experienced sailors who would join the ship for the return trip to gain experience. That meant that by the time I tried to track down quilts we had not heard from a number of the crew had already disappeared off into the rest of the navy and their Op Slipper emails were no longer valid. With HMAS Toowoomba I did not get caught out and also we started sending quilts within days of them deploying which made a huge difference too.
I can quite happily tell you that we sent a total of 80 quilts to HMAS Toowoomba. there is only one quilt left to go and that is the Chaplain’s. I always leave their quilt to last so that I can tell them their crew has been looked after first. Most of them prefer it that way. With Toowoomba, the chaplain is coming home to Sydney and I have already set up a meeting with the chaplain to see how things went and also to give him his quilt which is currently under construction.
Of the 80 quilts, all bar two have been confirmed as having arrived safe and sound. One of them was at the Post Office this morning, marked Return to Sender and I am really please to have it back. Louise and Donna (DMS) will know it as Rugby Girl’s quilt. She apparently posted off Toowoomba before her quilt got to her and I am currently chasing down a new address for her.
The other quilt that we have confirmed has not arrived with the ship is one made by Gail from BOM blocks sent in by Kylie. I suspect it has slipped through the cracks somewhere as it was sent back in March and has PLENTY of time to find its way, even by the less than terrific standards applied to our deployed Navy’s mail.
Now I do not want this girl to miss out so I have made contact with her and have her personal email address. As I mentioned in passing, the email address the crew uses whilst on Op Slipper will become invalid as soon as they get home. I have arranged that I will check with the sailor a month after she arrives home just in case the quilt has found her and if it hasn’t I would like to have a new quilt ready to go.
I have done a couple of Facebook joint quilts recently so how about for this one we do a Blog Joint Quilt. If you are on facebook as well, feel free to join in. What I would like is 14″ stars in any combination of red white and black, with minimal inclusion of other colours please. I think it would be best to make it fairly gender neutral so that the quilt can be sent to a fellow should the original quilt turn up. I need 15 stars so if you are interested in taking part please let me know so I can make sure we get enough stars.
Please don’t be too disillusioned by this though – one quilt going missing out of over 80 is not bad! But it does amplify the reason that we need to get the quilts to the ships in the mail asap so that we can find out what happens to them.
To finish off this post I thought I would include some of the quilts we sent to Toowoomba, some of which were not posted on the blog in detail as we did not want to spoil the surprise and you will see they would have been very distinctive and easy to pick for the recipient. This is not all of the quilts and laundry bags – just the ones that I could find fairly quickly.
Angela – the front
and the back
and a message on the back in nautical flags!
Remeber the 80’s quilt that was a joint effort?
Front and back by Debra
a couple by yours truly and quilted by Carol
A couple by Louise and quilted by Stephanie
and who could forget this awesome picture!
HMAS toowoomba will be home again in a few weeks and I wish them all the best for the remainder of Operation Slipper and beyond.
Till next time……………..keep spreading the word and happy stitching!