Edit – if you receive this post via email and the lst half of the email is missing, as has happened with some people, please email me and I will email you a copy so that you do not miss out.
One of the reasons I thought Aussie Heroes would be a good idea was that I thought I would be able to use my organisational skills AND my sewing skills to give back to people I felt needed to know how much they are appreciated.
Little did I know that I would have to work really hard to find time to sew because the admin time would overtake my sewing time. LOL! I am not complaining though because one of the compensations of doing all the admin is that I am on the receiving end of all the emails sent to friendsofAHQ@gmail.com not to mention all the emails that are sent to my not-so-personal-anymore email address firstname.lastname@example.org LOL (I maintain the two email addresses as some places cannot use gmail and some cannot use bigpond for some reason.)
I receive lots of business-like emails, lots of routine emails and requests, but every now and then I get an email that stands out and brings a little extra fun and personality in to what I do all day every day.
This is one of those stories and I just hope I can do it justice. First I received this email. Note names of the guilty parties changed to protect the not so innocent. For the civvies among you a quick refresher – CAPT is Captain, WO is Warrant Officer, SGT is Sergeant and CPL is Corporal. The Captain is the boss and I have listed them in descending rank so that means the CPL is the junior rank.
The main character in this story is called SuperDad or CPL C!
This was his first email to me.
I have heard of your organisation through fellow soldiers deployed with me in Afghanistan and would like to say what a wonderful idea it is and let you know that the guys and gals absolutely love what you and your team are doing for them.
Unfortunately, myself and the 5 other soldiers in the XXXXXX Team have, until now, not known of your existence. As such I would like to inquire how I go about organising quilts and laundry bags for myself and the rest of the team:
SGT (Donald or Daffy duck)
CPL A (battle tanks)
and myself, CPL C (Superman)
Any assistance that you might be able to provide would be appreciated and just on the off chance that this email is sufficient to get us on your mailing list for quilts and laundry bags, I have included (in brackets) what each of the fellow soldiers would like on their laundry bags or quilts.
Again, thank you in advance and the work that you are doing is definitely appreciated by the soldiers I serve with in Afghanistan.
Now you might be forgiven for thinking that a couple of the soldiers on this list were female given that they had asked for Ballet and Barbie themed quilts and laundry bags!
Quite a reasonable assumption but fortunately I had the names of these FELLOWS so I knew there were no females among them. I could have just gone ahead and assumed that some of they wanted quilts and laundry bags to pass on to their little girls etc. but having done fifteen years in the services myself and knowing military humour (and having been on the receiving end of it a few times myself!) I just had to check the authenticity of these requests so I sent off an email…..
Dear Super Dad (remember names changed to protect the
I just have to ask if all the fellows are in on this, or are you submitting a request and coming up with the themes on their behalf? If you are requesting the items on their behalf and the CAPT, for example, did not actually choose ballet and swans for himself ……well…. It is just that many of your fellow soldiers have told us that their AH Quilt will become a treasured possession and I would hate to think someone, perhaps CPL B, might be disappointed with Barbies! If you have chosen the themes for them then might I suggest we limit the humour to the laundry bags and do something more (what’s the word?) appropriate for their quilts.
Sure as eggs, back came the reply….
Thank you very much for your prompt reply. As you can well imagine we require humour to help us through the life we have chosen and in true Australian fashion, occasionally we take it a little too far…so, the cynicism was warranted and not unwelcome. We, the team, do not have preferences for the quilts but if possible, we’d love the laundry bags to be the themes re-listed below (with changes)
CAPT Ballet or Cupid (his partner loves ballet – and his nickname is cupid)
WO1 Dinosaurs (favourite movie = Jurassic Park)
SGT Daffy or Donald Duck (just loves his cartoons)
CPL A Tanks (drove tanks for the Army)
CPL B Holden Cars (ok, so that one has changed from Barbie and he collects real Holden ‘Classic’ Cars)
CPL C Superman (my wife and 2 girls refer to me as Superdad, sometimes Supernerd (from the girls))
These quilts and laundry bags are of a far superior quality than anything else available here and I, for one, will be taking mine home and using it for as long as I can.
The fact that these are fashioned by
Australians for Australian Soldiers
makes them that much more special in a place where special means a lot. Most of the personnel with your laundry bags brag about them and how good they are…..and not a single one of them is the same. I thank you for the effort you and your people are making and believe me when I say it certainly livens up their day.
I do love that quote! “Made by Australians for Australian Soldiers”. As it should be!
So, I took SuperDad at his word ( I so should have known better!!) and put out the requests for the quilts. Rita M took on the Captain’s Ballet quilt and also the dinosaur quilt for WO. Margaret took on the quilt and Laundry bag for our Holden loving CPL B. Judy Hills created the quilt for SGT. Lynn and I collaborated on the quilts for SuperDad and CPL A, now known as TANK Guy! Julie Ann made the laundry bags for SuperDad, Tank Guy and SGT, Stephanie D made the laundry bag for the dinosaur loving WO1 and my sister-in-law made the laundry bag for the ballet loving CAPT. Special mention has to go to Michele who also helped us out but you will read more about that later.
At some point I thought I should send SuperDad and Co an update.
Well my friend, I thought it was time to send you a bit of an update on your quilts and laundry bags. All of them are under construction, or soon to be on their way. I have managed to find someone to make quilts and laundry bags for all of you. I am pleased to say that almost all of you will be all receiving a quilter’s interpretation of your individually themed laundry bags. I hope you will all be pleased! I do wish I could see the look on the Captain’s face when he opens up his laundry bag which was made by my own sister-in-law! Try not to let him open it in peace. I had trouble finding Daffy and Donald fabric for a quilt for SGT but his laundry bag will be a beaut so I think he will be pleased. I have picked a really nice quilt out for him though so I hope he is not too disappointed that it is not cartoon themed. It should be in the mail this week. I actually managed to arrange something appropriate for all of the rest of you. Most are still under construction but the quilt for CPL B should be in the mail this week.
The lady making the quilt for the Captain and for WO1 has a pretty wicked sense of humour which makes me really keen to see what she comes up with.
I do not think you will be disappointed!
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Back came another reply from SuperDad……..and this was after WO’s laundry bag had arrived. Just perfect for a crusty old Warrant Officer don’t you think?
(no offence meant please – not all WO’s are old :-D)
We are more than happy to have whatever you are in the process of creating…..in the immortal words of some commander sometime and somewhere, “WEAPONS FREE!”
Please, we are just happy that someone is doing something nice for us and believe me…..the Dinosaurs, WO loved them.
Here is the WO’s thank you message to Stephanie D.
Thank you so much for the dino bag it goes with my age group and will be put to good use here. You are most welcome for effort we all put in here, speaking from personal point of view it is an honour to serve a grateful nation. Once again thank you so much and all the best for the future.
Another time I sent a query on a different subject that I cannot cover here and this is the reply I received. SuperDad’s email’s were always lovely and usually humourous!
It is a pleasure receiving and replying to emails from those of you who support and appreciate us and the work that we do…..which thankfully is the majority of Australia. I think your quilts are gorgeous and I defy anyone to say a bad word about them, even if they do not get exactly what they want. Again, a good example being my boss. Not exactly what he wanted or what he requested but he loves his laundry bag, and every one of the boys here has a chuckle at/with him, I get called a few names, and he lauds it over us with his ‘awesome’ laundry bag.
The perfect laundry bag for a professional military officer don’t you think?
Now, quite frankly, you would think that SuperDad’s comments that this laundry bag was not exactly what the boss wanted and not exactly what he requested would have made me twig but I was obviously busy or was stonewalled but the quick thinking CPL! I even wrote back to him and queried it but I am not sure that I ever got an answer -certainly not a straight one! LOL
If I had any wits about me I would have had a camera handy when the guys opened their parcels. I can tell you that WO (Dinosaur Fan) was like a little kid with his laundry bag.
The boss, CAPT, was somewhat gob-smacked with his laundry bag and we haven’t stopped giving him a hard time about it, but he loves it and reckons it is awesome……”This is going straight to the poolroom” was what he said.
CPL B has received both his quilt and laundry bag and the smile on his face (one of those that stay there all day) was enough to have me more than satisfied since it was I that initiated this for the guys I work with.
I thank you and your team for the obvious effort that has gone into the making of these collectible pieces. They have certainly made a difference to the guys here, and not just to our team but to all of the guys and girls that have received them. Thank you.
I hope this finds you and yours well and in good health, take care.
You can read the letter from CPL B to Margaret a little later.
Another laundry bag arrived and Julie Ann received this email from SGT.
(Thanks to Michele for the embroideries!)
Dear Julie Ann and AHQ,
I would first like to personally thank you for your thoughts and prayers whilst I am deployed to Afghanistan and secondly for the fantastic Quilt and Laundry bags that I have received over that last few weeks. My fellow team members and I have enjoyed receiving the parcels containing the Quilts and Laundry bags with the various designs made for each and every one of us. I cherish the thought and effort that every one of you have put into making these special items, each one with its own individuality and identity. It is with your support and these beautiful gifts that we can can get through the hardships of being away from our family, loved ones and home. Please keep them coming while the boys are away, they really are special and will be kept for a lifetime.
This is my third Deployment (Timor and two trips to the Middle East) and I can tell you it doesn’t get any easier being away from those you love. Please take this e-mail as my personal thanks and love for all that you do.
Finally the email I was waiting for – confirmation that all quilts and laundry bags had arrived. SuperDad wrote…
Dear Jan-Maree, Julie Ann and the ladies of AHQ,
I apologise for being a tad late in my reply, I have been exceptionally busy as I am responsible for ensuring that the team and all of our equipment gets back to wherever it is supposed to go…..an enterprise of almost overwhelming proportions that at times feels just that, overwhelming (the personnel is easy, it is the equipment that is causing nightmares).
Rest assured though, your packages arrived last week and were opened with a certain amount of glee and trepidation (you never know what you are going to get….just ask the boss) especially since I was the instigator of all of the quilts and laundry bags…..I admit I was nervous about any surprises that I was in store for, you all have such a wickedly quirky sense of humour.
I opened my laundry bag first and was stunned, absolutely awesome was the first thing that came to mind and I am too afraid to use it as a laundry bag….it is instead going ‘straight to the pool room.’ (again special thanks to Michele for the embroideries)
I did not think that the laundry bag could possibly be outdone but you managed that with the quilt. I LOVE IT! And I know that my better half will get a real kick out of the “SUPER NERD,” the number of times that she says, “You know what SuperDad, for a really intelligent guy you do some really dumb sxxx sometimes!” I am quoting, of course. The kids are going to love it and I can see it becoming one of those family heirlooms that are priceless for their intrinsic sentimental value.
Your packages have, on reception, been opened with smiles, backslaps, awesome comments, laughs, a little teasing (a lot of teasing in the boss’s case) and a sense of pride. I know that the majority of Australians are very proud of what we do but saying something a hundred times is not like living it once, and receiving your packages is that living it once. We are absolutely blown away by the quilts, laundry bags, magazines, extra packages of snacks (the Jaffa’s were a big hit – I did manage to stow some of them away for a later date) and the emails that you have shared with us during our deployment. Thank you to you and all of the ladies that participated in our, and other soldiers quilts/laundry bags. If others get half of the enjoyment from theirs that we are sure to get from ours…..you have, and the ladies have done an exceptional job.
We work with foreign military forces here, and a lot of them are all ooohs and aaahs when they see our quilts and always want to know where they can get them, I smile and think of you guys and silently thank you every time someone looks at our laundry bags and quilts and wishes that they were Australian (most of them do wish that anyway).
All of our thoughts, best wishes and hopes for the ladies of Aussie Hero Quilts, now and into the future. Thank you for making it all count.
Yours sincerely and respectfully,
ps – in case I didn’t say so……WOW! I love both my quilt and laundry bag. Thank You so very much
Letter from WO1 to Rita M
Thank you so much for the quilt especially as you are a South Australian as I am as well, as matter of fact Rosewater no guesses who I barrack for. Being the eldest in a team of six I guess I would get the dinosaur but that is okay because I have been in the Army for 31 years and have a few more to go before I pull up stumps. So it is only natural that I am a dinosaur because when I joined they were still calling loose instead of fire when firing our weapons. All jokes aside making these quilts for us means a hell of a lot to all our troops as we now know not only are our family’s behind us but also the people of Australia as well. I hope your husband maintains his good health for a long time to come and once again thank you so much for your efforts in making this fabulous quilt.
Margaret received a lovely thank you letter from CPL B. Now I have to explain a little here. Sometimes an opportunity presents itself that it just too good. If you remember Super Dad told me that CPL B wanted Barbie themed goodies, until I double checked with him and he admitted that he really wanted a Holden themed set. Still, there was an opportunity there that we could not quite pass up. I spoke to Margaret and arranged a very pretty PINK LINING for CPL B’s laundry bag. 😀
Here is part of the letter from from Holden Barbie guy to Margaret
Received your parcel,recently with quilt and L B. You have done an amazing job! It is everything I didn’t know I wanted and will be cherished for many years to come! I absolutely love the design and Holden material is splendid.
We all had a good laugh about the ‘Pink and Pretty’ inside the bag, I often walk to the
Laundry with it ‘loud and proud’. The other boys have now received theirs. The most hilarious of all was the Boss’s pink and pretty Ballerinas
We all had the biggest laugh!!!!! It helps that his girlfriend is a ballerina.
I can’t believe I kept missing all the signs. You have probably picked them up all the way along and it seems so obvious now. The only three who received what they asked for were the three Corporals! The CAPT, the WO and the SGT were not expecting what they got but it seems that, thankfully, they are happy with what they received, although in the CAPT’s case it seems GOBSMACKED is a very appropriate description of is reaction. I do tend to think that SuperDad is lucky to have survived! I guess he must be good at his job! LOL It wasn’t till SuperDad and I had a chat on the phone after he came home recently that I realised the truth of the situation! Can you imagine what the CAPT thought when he opened his laundry bag up, let alone his quilt? Oh my goodness! Pretty funny though!
I am going to make it up to him. As soon as I get back from Brisbane I will make him a slightly more manly laundry bag – he can hardly travel around with a pretty pink ballerina one can he!
And for those of you attending the dinner in Brisbane………standby to meet SuperDad and Tank Guy – and if I were you……..I wouldn’t believe a word either of them say! 🙂
Till next time………………..keep spreading the word and happy stitching! JMxx