Personnel in the Middle East Region (MER) were a little warmer and more comfortable ahead of Anzac Day as a specially made quilt toured the region.
An Anzac Centenary Quilt, featuring camouflage patterns and poppies, travelled around the region to be signed by personnel from various operations in the MER.
It was made by Aussie Hero Quilts at the request of Commander JTF 633, RADM Trevor Jones, to help commemorate the Centenary of Anzac.
“The Centenary Quilt travelled around the MER on numerous different missions where two highly regarded personnel from each signed it,” he said. “The quilt represents a historical record of the people conducting MER operations during this significant year.”
Aussie Hero Quilts have been making laundry bags and quilts for deployed personnel since 2011 to thank them for their overseas service.
Jan-Maree Ball, who founded the organisation, also served 15 years in the RAAF, mostly as an air traffic controller.
“I was humbled and delighted to be asked to make a quilt worthy of the centenary,” she said. “I had been struggling to find a fitting project to commemorate the centenary and not detract too much from our primary mission.
“Whilst it required a lot of coordination and a little effort from many people, lots of people had the chance to contribute and be part of the project.”
There are 75 poppies incorporated into the design of the Anzac Quilt and three silhouettes that represent each service, along with pieces of uniforms used on operations.
More than 90 people helped create the quilt as Jan-Maree tried to include all the dedicated quilters she could.
“It had to be representative of the sort of quilts we make for Aussie Heroes,” she said.
"The front of the quilt is made from poppy blocks; we use a bigger version of these blocks to make Fallen Warrior Quilts, which are given to the families of those whose loved ones have paid the ultimate sacrifice serving their country.
“It was designed to be big enough so that everyone could contribute.
“Quilters from all over Australia registered to make a block and send it in.”
While Jan-Maree believed it was important to honour Australians from past wars, she is happy the quilt could help highlight those still deployed.
“We should also be recognising the contribution made by our current serving members,” she said. “I believe that this quilt does that and I am incredibly proud and humbled to be part of the project.”
The quilts have warmed many deployed personnel over recent years and RADM Jones wanted to recognise the time and effort of this special group of Australians.
“Volunteer organisations such as Aussie Hero Quilts provide an important welfare service to our men and women in the ADF,” he said. “In this centenary year of Anzac I believe it’s also important to recognise support agencies that contribute to the overall mission.”