Who exactly sews for Aussie Heroes?

Written by AHQ

19 February 2015

As you know I spent a good portion of last weekend with one of our recipients, including the drive to and from Canberra.  We had some good conversations along the way and one of the questions I asked her was “who do the troops think we are?  Who do they think I am?” 

With the population of deployed troops changing over every few months, and with myriad of responsibilities that each member has to handover to their replacement, it is little wonder if news of our existence and service is passed on briefly and with minimal details. 

In truth though I was a little taken aback by the answer.

My companion, who is known to have a wicked sense of humour, took great delight in replying in the following manner..

“The truth is that generally, they think you are all little old grey haired ladies!”

Hmmmm, just as well I was driving on a quiet stretch of road at the time as I am sure I am close to driving off the road!  LITTLE OLD LADIES INDEED!!!   Seriously!

I might have thought she was just pulling my leg but for another story I had been told a good year or so ago.  I arranged 12 laundry bags as a surprise for a team of 12 Special Forces blokes.  When they were delivered, each one personalised with initials for each member, the Warrant Officer in charge of the group, having been caught by surprise, was heard to say…….

“I can’t believe that someone took advantage of a bunch of little old ladies!”  Seriously!!   I am told that he was soon put straight and it was explained that no-one took advantage of us and most importantly, we are not a bunch of little old ladies.   

So, two comments in the same vein, I figured it could not do any harm to explain a little about who we are.

Firstly what I am not.  I am not GREY HAIRED, not that I have anything against grey hair as I intend to go grey as gracefully as I can, but I am a red head and proud of it. 

Secondly I am not little and, at the ripe young age of 52, I am not OLD.  My sons might dispute that, but even they won’t do it too persistently if they want their dinner cooked.  I am not exactly sure at what age I will admit to being old but I will let you know when I get there.

So who am I?  

I am an Ex-RAAF, Ex-RAN officer who has served as an Air Traffic Controller, a Communications Officer and an Administrative Officer for just over 15 years in total. 

I am married to my husband, David, Ex-RAAF Engineer, now happily ensconced in the private sector.  I left the service when our twins sons were born.  They are now nearly 19 years of age and come next Monday, will both be University students.

Aussie Heroes is run from my home, from a laptop that sits on my sewing table next to my sewing machine.   Actually, Aussie Heroes has more or less overrun most of my house, at least the living areas.  On sewing days we take over most of the living areas much to the disgust of the teens during the holidays.  

I answer all the emails and Facebook messages and write most of the blog posts.  I don’t get to do much sewing at all these days but you can’t have everything.

So apart from me, who else is involved in Aussie Heroes?  I have included several pictures though they do not necessarily relate to the comments above or below.

I dare not single out anyone in particular as everyone makes a contributions and we need them all.  We have ladies, and one or two gents, from all over Australia sewing for us. 

We have past and present service spouses, including the wives of Vietnam veterans.  
We have current serving members. We have mothers of current serving members, some paying it forward because they saw the joy their child experienced from receiving their quilt or laundry bag.

There are also people who have no connections what-so-ever with defence but believe that our sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen deserve to be supported. 

We have people who make one quilt at a time, as their minimal time permits,  We have people who are constantly sewing for AHQ, often with more than one quilt on the go at a time. 

There are wonderful people (and we can always use more) who quilt for us, finishing donated tops into quilts. 
There are a few people (once again I would love more) who sew the binding on the quilts, that is the bit around the edges that completes the quilt.  

We have beginner quilters who are learning to make quilts because they want to join in sewing for Aussie Heroes.  Now that sure warms my heart.  

We also have very, very talented quilters whose skills leave me in awe.  

There are people who do not sew but help out in other ways.  I have an army wife who types up thank you letters (if they are not sent to me as emails) so that I can post them on the blog.  I have a navy wife who comes to my home regularly to help with non-sewing jobs as well as PowerPoint presentations.  She is also my official “speech writer”.   This is a new task but she has taken the last couple of speeches I have written and finessed them for me – something that saves me an immense amount of time.

I have an Air Force couple who help out with technical “stuff” (not my forte) and in other areas.  

There are also people who use their fancy embroidery machines to produce Skippy badges, Rising Sun badges and whatever other bits and pieces are needed to be added to our quilts to personalise them when we can.  

We have a great range of ages from the kindergarten class that is planning to make laundry bags to some lovely octogenarians and lots in between.

We are a mixed bunch but I think we are a great bunch and I might be a little bit biased but I think we have the best volunteers in Australia.

Well, I hope that gives you an idea about who we are and who we aren’t.  If you have any questions about what we do, how we do it or why we do it, please do not hesitate to ask.

Till next time….keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

A very young Jan-Maree xx  😀

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  1. kiwikid

    I agree!! Well done, love the photos!!

  2. Dasha

    Great post. Well said.

  3. Janine C

    Lovely photo of you Jan-Maree and great introduction. I suppose many ADF members are youngsters, in their 20s, and to them anyone over 35 would seem old. Those of us who are creeping up in years prefer to think of old as 'when you just don't move anymore'.

  4. Outback Crafter - Debra

    I love this post.
    As an Aussie Hero Sewer who is not yet 40, I am so glad you clarified this misconception.
    I wonder what our average age is?


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