Jan-Maree Ball: Aussie Hero Quilts
Supporting Our Troops
The Aussie Hero Quilts team consists of around 150 passionate stitchers who’ve produced and donated over 5,000 quilts and 7,400 laundry bags. These quilts and laundry bags have comforted our servicemen and women all around the world, including Afghanistan, Dubai, South Sudan, Egypt and Israel.
Jan-Maree Ball, founder of Aussie Hero Quilts, who also served 15 years in both the navy and air force says “I was so proud to serve when I wore the uniform but I am even more proud to serve our awesome men and women who serve today.”
The Aussie Heroes motto has remained the same since their humble beginning four years ago, “We care about the people, not the politics or the mission.”
The passion, determination and thoughtfulness shown by Mrs Ball has seen her awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.
Mrs Ball says, “I have a strong belief that if everyone did something to give back, no matter how small, the community, the world, would be a better place. Personally, I felt a real need to do something, to give back. As I said, I was looking for an organization I could get involved with. I had not expected to start one!”
There are three main reasons as to why Aussie Hero Quilts started.
“I felt the need to do something to give back to our Defence Force as I hated the way our Vietnam veterans were treated, and that can never happen again,” Mrs Ball says.
She also stated the second reason as being “I heard of a seriously wounded Aussie soldier given a quilt by the Americans in the German hospital he was being treated in and I felt ashamed that there was not an Aussie quilt for him.”
“The third reason is that I felt we, the Australian public, need to look after our troops better. Who do we call on when there is a natural disaster? Be it fire, flood or earthquake? We call on the Defence Force.”
Mrs Ball also acknowledges that the issued laundry bags all look the same whereas Aussie Heroes Laundry Bags are all different. She explains, “Our laundry bags are made to last and they have put an end to bags of laundry being lost or mistakenly grabbed by the wrong person.”
“I started quilting when I first joined the RAAF in my early 20s. I was posted to RAAF Base Richmond and went to a TAFE course. This was before rotary cutters and mats and before you couldn’t find much in the way of patchwork fabric in Australia.”
“I knew when I started AHQ that it would be popular. I knew that quilters would come on board and I was certain that our troops would appreciate it. What I did not know was just how much what we do would mean to the troops. I also did not know how much it would mean to some of the quilters who now have a purpose and some very willing recipients for their handiwork. I love knowing that we are making a difference. “
How We Can Help
Mrs Ball expects 2016 to be the busiest year for herself and the team at Aussie Hero Quilts, with word of the group’s efforts spreading quickly among the troops overseas as well as their families back home.
The West Pennant Hills, NSW resident and her team of quilters now receive requests from troops across the Middle East for quilts to help keep them warm, with temperatures in Afghanistan sometimes dropping to as low as -25°C
While Mrs Ball does not expect donations, she is always humbled when people give something back. What makes Aussie Hero Quilts so special is that you don’t have to know how to sew to help, there are many ways to assist this fantastic cause – Helping Aussie Hero Quilts.
Aussie Hero Quilts will be at the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair on June 22 to 26, come along and meet Jan Maree and find out how you can get involved.
Written by Ayden Evans