Hello Friday!!! Another week of Amazing Quilts and Laundry Bags sent off to our ADF pers!! I think we can all agree, a...
On with the formalities…………….. Probably the easiest thing to do is to share some of my speech from last night.
Firstly I would like to say a very sincere thank you to all of you for coming. Whether you make quilts or laundry bags, a recipient, a family member or friend of a recipient or an Aussie Hero Friend, I appreciate you giving up your Saturday night to come out and celebrate two years of Aussie Heroes with us. A number of you have come quite a way – I think Michele from Geelong ( I said “Melbourne” last night and got in trouble!) wins the prize for booking the soonest, travelling the furthest, and being one of four people who attended the Inaugural Aussie Hero Dinner, as well as this one. I am delighted to have you all here.
Yesterday I received a letter and I have been asked to share it with you tonight. I have asked my husband, David, to read it for me.
(You can read it here if you haven’t already)
I am not going to make a long speech (Angela called out “Good”. Seriously how rude!) but I am going to take this opportunity to thank some very special people.
When I started Aussie Heroes at the beginning of last year I told myself that I would just do the best I could. I didn’t set goals or targets. I just let things happen and tried to guide our efforts as best to the best of my ability. Along the way I got to know quilters and sewers and a few of the troops that we were sending to. One of the biggest gifts that has come out of Aussie Heroes for me, and that caught me completely by surprise, is the lovely friendships I have made, both within the sewing community and the Defence Community. I have been truly blessed. There are so many people who make up the group we call Aussie Hero Friends and they have all played an important role in what we have achieved.
Tonight I would like to acknowledge three very supportive people have stood out in my journey with Aussie Heroes.
This is the first time that all three of them have been together and the first time that I have met one of them. Since each of them joined Aussie Heroes, their support of Aussie Heroes and of me has been seemingly unwavering. What I do can be fairly solitary – I spend most of my day in front of a laptop, occasionally in front of my sewing machine, but just about always alone unless there is a sewing day on. Sometimes it is nice to have someone to share the load with.
Debbie, who I met for the first time just a little while ago, has really come to the fore in recent months.
Most quilters pick and choose the requests they want to make, or they make the quilt of their choice and then tell me when it is ready so that I can allocate it. That is absolutely fine. I know I say that we can’t guarantee anyone will get what they ask for when they submit a request, but you have to know that I try really hard to make their wishes come true. Debbie helps me to do that.
“ What is the next priority she says.”
“Just tell me which request you want me to do.”
“Jan-Maree, you just need to tell me what you need me to do”
I have other quilters who do that too BUT what sets Debbie apart is that she is also happy to help me with quilting. She tells me to send quilt tops to her and she provides the backing and the batting, she quilts, she binds and then she sends the quilts off and all in quick order. That is a huge help to me. This trip I have brought up four more quilt tops for Debbie and four letters to go with quilts she has already quilted.
And then there is Angela the Angelic and Caroline, also known as Deputy Nut.
(please admire their name tags – Angela made everyone else’s name tags but I arranged for Michele to make their’s and for some reason they were nervous?? Why I ask you???)
Between them, Angela and Caroline have kept me going. They have been there as sounding boards when I have been unsure about what decision to make, or what direction to take. They have proof read letters and drafted emails. They have sewn bindings and quilted, made laundry bags, picked up the slack, and cut me some slack. The bottom line is that they have always been there, encouraging me and supporting me.
These three are a big part of Aussie Heroes and what they do is not often visible. Tonight is my chance to recognise them.
I have something special to give them but first I need to explain what it is. Recently a Warrant Officer asked me to make a quilt for the outgoing Commander of the Joint Task Force 633, Major General Crane. When he received his quilt he sent me a letter, saying among other things, that receiving his quilt was the highlight of his deployment. He went on to say that whilst he had been aware of what we were doing, it wasn’t until he received his own quilt that he fully understood what our gifts meant to the other serving men and women. As a token of his gratitude he sent me some of his Commander’s Coins. He asked me to pass one each to Lynn and Belinda who had worked on his quilt with me, and suggested I distribute the other coins as I saw fit.
These coins were MAJGEN Crane’s Commander’s Coins for when he was Commander Joint Task Force 633. He presented them coins to Australian serving members as a congratulatory gesture, or as a thank you. Sometimes the coins would be given to coalition or foreign defence force members as a token to build relationships.
The tradition of coin exchanges is an American tradition and I am not quite sure of its roots. It is, however, now a very popular custom between, and within, Defence Forces across the globe.
Each coin has seniority according to the unit they are from, or the rank. In this case these are the coins of a two star General and there are not many coins that will out rank them.
And finally there is one last person I would like to thank and that is my husband, David.
David has always been supportive of my passion (he might say obsession) for craft, sewing and quilting. He has been just as supportive of Aussie Heroes.
David doesn’t complain about the piles of quilt tops or fabrics on the dining room and lounge room table, chairs and floors. He accepts that our dining table is a work table. He accepts that the spare boxes are stored in the corner of the room. The spare laundry bags live on the pine dresser.
David didn’t complain when Aussie Heroes spread from my sewing room, to the lounge/dining area, to the small front office in our home and to the conservatory.
He didn’t complain when I opened a Post Office Box and started running sewing days out of our home.
He doesn’t say much, but by his quiet acceptance, he makes it possible for me to do what I do and that is to devote most of my time, six days a week to a cause that I am passionate about. I am not sure that there is anyone that I respect more. There is certainly no one that I love more. His acceptance of my commitment to Aussie Heroes has, more than any other factor, made Aussie Heroes possible. Tonight is my chance to say a very heartfelt thank you.
Finally I would like to thank all of you who have supported us. (and that goes for all of you out there as well). I may have started Aussie Heroes, but I am just one person. There are lots of people just like you who have helped Aussie Heroes achieve what we have in the last 2 years. Do not underestimate the contribution each of you has made. Whether it be quilts, laundry bags, blocks, quilting, fabric, post satchels, financial support, spreading the word or heart felt messages of encouragement. Everything helps and every contribution makes a difference.
I am excited by possibilities that the future holds for Aussie Heroes. I don’t know how many quilts and laundry bags we will have made by the end of next year, but I do know this
Our Quilts and laundry bags are gifts of the heart,
Whatever we do today is more than was being done before
and most importantly,
we are making a difference.
That was the end of the formal part of the evening but we also had a few other things happen through out the evening.
Angela’s 16 year old daughter Amy, who I must say did her parents proud on Friday and Saturday helping out gave a spontaneous speech thanking her mother for her efforts over the last three weeks in particular, running around “like a chook with her head cut off” getting everything ready for the night and then she thanked me for starting Aussie Heroes and enriching her life.
Yes there were tears! Damn Sand! Fortunately we had a handy box of Sand Abatement Tissues at the ready!
Pauline came all the way from Mackay to attend the dinner with her two daughters Elaine and Rhonda. This was a special girls weekend in Brisbane to celebrate Pauline’s 85th birthday so Angela and I decided that we had to mark the occasion in a special way. First came a kiss on the cheek from two handsome heroes (really……what more can a girl ask for???) and don’t the photos tell the story???
Then of course there was cake, beautifully made and donated by Nicky! Thanks Nicky and I can verify that the cake was YUMMY!
During the evening Nicky surprised me with my own laundry bag – I had found myself in Brisbane without a laundry bag and had laughed at myself on Facebook – Hmm here to put my laundry! You would think I might have made myself a laundry bag after all this time! LOL. Thank you Nicky! I love it! And how she found the time whilst making the cake for Pauline and looking after FIVE children is beyond me – oh and she works as well!
Here I am chatting to the parents and sister of a recipient called Mr 6’8″, a recipient of Angela’s. How lovely of them to come!
Some of the quilts on display – the raffle quilt, a Wounded Warrior Quilt, the two challenge quilts from last year and my own Aussie Hero Quilt made as a Mystery Quilt and given to me on ANZAC Day this year. I love it!
My hostess from Murwillumbah, Sue, (a quilter and a recipient’s Mum), Angela, Caroline and Amy, Angela’s daughter
Marilyn (quilter and Navy Mum), Gayl and Jenny (hope I got you girls around the right way)
Pauline and daughter Elaine – Pauline makes laundry bags and has just about finished her first quilt and Elaine is her enabler.
Joanne (one of the Chatting Chooks) and Karen (veteran of past deployments and a beginner quilter)
Sue again with Debbie in red and her daughter Donelle
Jan and her husband Martin (far right) with Angela’s husband Simon and David
Jan and Martin’s son was deployed earlier this year and Jan makes laundry bags.
Leesa (maker of the Christmas balls and quilter) and Pauline
Angela, Sophie, Jo and Judy C – A collection of Chatting Chooks.
Leanne and Nicky – both quilters and Nicky made the cake for Pauline
Janine (wait till you see her Challenge Laundry bag) and Michele who is responsible for many of the embroideries included in my quilts and laundry bags.
Angela the Angellic……………………apparently
My three Heroes – Money Honey, SuperDad and David
Again, the pictures tell a story. A hat is the perfect gift for Simon
Like mother, like daughter -Amy and Angela
Shell, Mr QLD Laundry Bag and Debbie – who is reaching for the tissues as she had just found out that she had made his quilt!!! He was so grateful he had sent her a beautiful four page letter!
Money Honey admiring his Christmas Baubles. To save you asking Money Honey had surgery on Wednesday to remove a skin cancer – I tried to convince him that we should say he dodged a bullet but he is far too honest.
Mr QLD LB drawing raffle tickets
Yours truly and my hostess from Murwillumbah
Michele – the embroiderer, quilter and she who arranged for us to use Dorothy MacKellar’s poem “My Country”.
Special thanks to our wonderful heroes for coming. I know you didn’t hear much about Mr QLD Laundry Bag but he was a fairly late addition to the party, along with his wife, Shell, and I am so pleased that he came as it meant he could meet Debbie his quilter.
Thanks SuperDad! You are a good sport and we really loved having you!
You are a star Money Honey. It was so lovely to meet you! AND I made sure we got a picture of your good side.
And here we all are – the whole group of attendees.
And check these out. Caroline arrange a special surprise for me – my own set of dog tags! Don’t you love them?
And Angela made me my own name tag for the event – and yes, in case you are wondering….
I love Christmas!
Thanks everyone for making last night such a wonderful event. Thanks for all the little touches that made it so special and a night I will remember for the longest time.
Love and hugs to you all
Till next time………………….keep spreading the word and happy stitching! JMxx
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