Wonderful people and wonderful Canberra and Wagga.

Written by ahq_admin

16 November 2015

As I told you, I came down to Canberra on Saturday morning but I had not told you what I was coming for.   Well it has been a weekend of catching up with Aussie Hero Quilters and recipients and I will do my best to tell you all about it.

Back in 2012 we sent a quilt to a 21 year old soldier.  As often happens with young blokes he told his mother how much the quilt meant to him and when she asked the inevitable Mum question…. “did you right to say thank you”  he answered…. “umm no”… so Mum wrote instead.  Her name is Sandra and she has kept in touch with me ever since. Sandra and her gorgeous boy visited Sydney and had a belated Christmas Dinner at my home one year with another couple, the husband  also deployed with Sandra’s son.  We have always kept in touch and Sandra has supported Aussie Heroes in a number of ways, including most recently, being our signature hound, capturing signatures from people like Jon Steven, Leo Sayer, Jimmy Barnes and others, especially the lovely Petero Civoiniceva.  

When we were making the Centenary Quilt it was really important to me that it represented all those who support Aussie Heroes, not just the quilters so I asked Sandra if she wanted to contribute to the cost of the materials.  She jumped at the chance.  Once the quilt was completed she, of course, wanted to see it, so I promised her that if it went on display at the Australia War Memorial I would meet her in Canberra and we would go and see it together.   Well that time was this weekend.  Sandra flew in from Charleville in South West Queenland at 1130 on Saturday. 

We went straight to Poppy’s, the cafe at the Australian War Memorial, for a bite of lunch.  As I waited for Sandra at the airport I checked my Facebook page and noticed that another one of our recipients who I have been in contact with ever since had also just arrived at theWar Memorial. A few rapid exchanges on FB and she came over to Poppy’s too and shared a cuppa with us. What a lovely surprise to meet her after being friends for a couple of years.  Of course I forgot to take a photo but I promise I did better for the rest of the trip!

After lunch Sandra and I hot-footed it over to check out the Centenary Quilt. 

 Now if you are wondering who that little fellow in uniform is that Sandra is holding, that is Wyatt.  He belongs to her son and he goes EVERYWHERE the family goes. He even went on deployment with her son.  He is a very well travelled and well connected little fellow.  
This is the new Explosive Detection Dog Memorial that is outside Poppy’s.  How beautiful is it?  It was only unveiled recently and we loved it. What an amazing piece of work. I just had to take some photos of it to share with you.
It is just a beautiful piece. 
The detail is amazing.
I found the sight of the ball on the bag particularly poignant.

The sculpture was created by Australian Artist Ewen Coates.  It lists the names of the dogs lost in service together with the name of Sapper Darren Smith, who was killed in Afghanistan alongside his dog, Herbie.
On Saturday night Sandra and I met up with other Aussie Hero Friends and went to dinner before watching Beccy Cole and Libby O’Donovan perform.

Please note the gorgeous poppy scarf that Sandra gave me!  Spoilt! 

Dinner before the show was really delicious and 

provided an excellent opportunity to catch up with Jo-Anne on the left and Carol on the right and also Rhonda and Fiona whose pictures you will see further on.

The very talented Libby opened the night and she, like Beccy, is just a wonderful entertainer. 

Beccy came on and charmed us all with her entertaining, down to earth and honest show.  She sang her beautiful song “Broken Soldier”.   

If you don’t know, Beccy was inspired to write it after she heard Angela McKay speak about the death of her son, Captain Paul McKay… if you do not know the tragic story of Paul you can read it here.   It would have been Paul’s birthday recently and when Beccy tells the story of the song she dedicates it to Paul.   This time she wished him happy birthday. 

 This is all of us…. Carol, Jo-Anne, Moi, Rhonda, Sandra and Fiona.  We had a ball.
Beccy is such a good sport.  She really does put her heart and soul into supporting our troops. Here she is signing Wyatt’s shirt…. I do hope he does not get in trouble with his superiors!

They had quite a good chat…..

And developed quite a “friendly” relationship….
I was pleased to be able to tell Beccy that the laundry bag she signed for us last time was sent to Iraq and went to one of her female fans who could not believe that she could have it!!

After a scrumptious breakfast on Sunday morning, I delivered Sandra to the airport and headed across to Wagga.  Just love driving through Australia’s countryside…..
In Wagga I am staying with one of our recipients from early in the piece…. 2012 perhaps?  I have become friends with the family and these are the people that asked me to arrange the quilt that we made for Matt Millhouse…. you can read the story of that quilt here and here (grab your tissues if you do). 

Last night I caught up with another of the gorgeous people I now include in my family since starting Aussie Heroes. This fellow received a quilt in 2012 and, although I don’t see him often (but I am sure I will be seeing him again soon!!!  Hint!) it was lovely to catch up with him and hear his latest news over dinner last night.

The last photo I have a chance to show you is this one. This is one of our wonderful RAAF Chaplains, and he has just returned from Al Minhad Air Base.  We had time for a quick catch up today before he had to rush off to another meeting.

I will be heading home early tomorrow morning.  Lots of work to do and quilts and laundry bags to pack on Thursday.  

The request list went out today and I will be working hard to tonight to catch up on all the emails.  If I owe you an email and have not got back to you by tomorrow night please send me a reminder. 

Well that is the story of my current trip away. I guess what I want you to understand from this is not so much that I get around and get to meet people, but that I have the opportunity to do this because of how much the quilts and laundry bags mean to those we send them to…. even months and years down the track.

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

Jan-Maree xx

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  1. Jacqui D

    How lovely for all of us that you keep us in the loop…loved the sculpture at the War memorial and look forward to seeing it myself along with the centenary quilt of course… I'll be there from the 11th to the 14thth of December. Thankyou JM

  2. Maria

    Hubby and I have recently visited Canberra and visited the War Museum … Saw the Centenury Quilts and loved the sculpture. Special for us as hubby was a dog handler in Vietnam.


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