Recently I had the absolute pleasure of handing over a very special quilt but I need to go back a few weeks to the beginning of the story.
I received a request for a quilt with the theme of mateship in military terms. I immediately thought of the awesome photo that many of you will have seen called “The Catch Up”. I found the photographer and messaged him. I introduced myself, told him who I am and what we do. I explained that I had received a request which I thought it would be perfect for and asked his permission to be able to use it in the quilt.
Well, imagine my delight when I received a phone call fairly quickly from the photographer. I have a policy of not naming our recipients but as he is now out of the service and as I have his permission, I will just called him Warrick. He told me I did not need to identify myself to him, that he knew exactly who I was and what we do …. because he had been deployed himself in 2013 and had received a quilt and laundry bag of his own.
Warrick said he was more than happy for me to use the photo and in fact he was delighted to be able to contribute to Aussie Heroes. I had a few more conversations with him, keeping him informed of the progress of the quilt and eventually asked him if he would like to sign the quilt once it was completed.
When the day came, Warrick arrived at my home and, I think it is safe to say that he was quite moved by the quilt. He had seen a photo of it, but photos all too often do not do any justice to the real thing, so the quilt looked much better than the photo.
After signing it and taking photos, Warrick sat at my laptop and wrote the backstory of the photo so that I could include it when I sent it off to the recipient. It was not til Warrick left that I had a chance to sit and read what he wrote.
I won’t go into detail as the story is not mine to tell but suffice to say that the photo was created in order to honour a fallen mate, more details to follow. Suffice to say at this point that this was not just any photo.
After learning the background of the photo it became apparent that we needed to make another quilt featuring the photo, this time for Warrick. It seemed only fitting that we pay tribute to his generosity and also to the fallen warrior in this way.
As is often the case, and as with the first quilt, this quilt is the result of a team effort. Again Lisa N printed the photo for us,
Kerri B embroidered the badges, Ian Coate supplied the silhouette that we have used on many of our special quilts.
Bridget put the first quilt together but this time I took all the pieces to Coffs Harbour and ladies up there as well as myself, worked together to complete the quilt. Sandy added “UBIQUE”. Di G and Jeannette put the top together and Bridget quilted and bound it. I added the label and the Little Blue Bear on the back… the logo for 17 Construction Squadron. It is sewn on the back next to the label.
A week ago Warrick came to my home a second time and this time it was to receive the quilt that we had made for him. Suffice to say that he was pleased with the result.
Later on, once he had driven home and had time to think about it, Warrick sent me this message which I share with you with his permission and at his request.
“Jan, could you pass this on to your network of quilters…
“I’ve just arrived home and have put the quilt along side the other one received while in Afghanistan in 2013.
I’ve just read the letter too, and am now wandering around in a bit of a daze.
In keeping with what is apparently the “tough bloke/soldier” stance on these Quilts – I am not deserving.
The Catch Up, was supposed to be selfish.
It was ultimately just supposed to be for me, so that I could find away to move forward after Scott’s death.
Granted I wanted to be able to raise some money too, but that was stage 2 of the plan. Stage 1 was the selfish part.
I didn’t deserve the success or recognition that image received, however I am incredibly grateful to all those who have supported me and have found their own story to go with the image, or solace in what it means to them.
I received so many stories from people talking about who they interpret those in the photo to be, and every time I read them, there are tears.
Just as there are now while I write this.
Again, in keeping with tradition, I don’t deserve the honour to have been able to help you in making XXXXX’s quilt, or the honour of receiving my own.
But I wish to pass on my profound thanks, respect and gratefulness to each and everyone of you Aussie Hero Quilters.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, to you and all those who help make Aussie Hero Quilts what it is.
As well as being a gift to Warrick the quilt was dedicated to the memory of
Corporal Scott James Smith who lost his life on operations in Afghanistan on 21 October 2012
Lest We Forget.
What a wonderful story. I've shared it with my friends.
This young man does deserve the recognition and success and a quilt!! That is one amazing photo and I am sure gives many people comfort.
What a beautiful letter from your heart Warrick to mine. You are well and truly deserving of this beautiful work of he
I have the privilege to sew for Aussie hero's and I thank you for your very kind words. All the best mate :o)
Brought tears to my eyes ….