‘I hope Prince Harry gets one’: RSL women get sewing for Invictus athletes

(ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe) ABC Radio Brisbane


Jessica Hinchliffe


August 20, 2018 09:00:33

Members have been counting the laundry bags before sending them to Sydney.
(ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Lynne Gambrill said the bags were a practical gift to help the athletes who do bulk washing each day.”It’s been a wonderful project, and people not even involved with the RSL have wanted to take part,” she said.”I had a call from a lady from Nanango who wasn’t an auxiliary member but she still wanted to be part of it.”The biggest thing for me has been that so many people from across the state have come together to support the athletes who are amazing in their own right.”

Each of the ladies took part in sewing the bags for the Invictus athletes. Invictus Games: Everything you need to know More than 500 athletes from around the globe will descend on Sydney for the 2018 Invictus Games. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Stitching more than 250 bagsAlong with auxiliaries from New South Wales and Victoria, the project is aiming to produce a total of 500 bags. Photo:
Lynne Gambrill coordinated the project for Queensland, collecting bags from across the state. Hundreds of handmade laundry bags will be given to athletes competing at the upcoming Invictus Games in Sydney following months of sewing by enthusiastic volunteers.Members of RSL Women’s auxiliaries across Queensland have spent most of the year busily collecting material and stitching bags.From bright koala embroidery to kangaroo-emblazed patchwork, each bag has been designed with a unique Australian theme. But what are they? Photo:
Prince Harry created the Invictus Games in 2014. (ABC News: Philippa McDonald)
“I hope Prince Harry gets one of my bags.”How wonderful would that be? I would really like that.”Fellow volunteer and bag creator Vicki Williams said although their contribution was small, it’s an important one.”I feel so proud to be part of it and we’ve become like ambassadors for Australia; it might just be a laundry bag, but it’s an icon that they take home with them.” we’ve sewn more than half the number needed,” Ms Gambrill said.”The women have enjoyed the fact that they could be involved in the Games even if they aren’t going.”Ms Gambrill said since joining the RSL Auxiliaries in 1980, she had never seen a project that involved so many people from across the country.”It’s been really heart-warming and I hope the athletes know how much love went into making each bag.”

Some of the bags have been inscribed with messages to the athletes. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Patchwork quilts have also been made for each country competing.”One of the quilts made from us has scenes of the Great Barrier Reef on it and we know it’s going to the English team,” Ms Gambrill said.”We also have one for Prince Harry and Meghan so they have something to take back to their country.”Inspired by young diggersVolunteer Betty Beauchamp made 25 bags on her own, the highest number made by one person in Queensland.”I’m a sewer and a hoarder,” she said”I even had a man from the Manly RSL who was able to embroider a gold kangaroo with Invictus Games Sydney 2018 on the bottom of each one.”

Betty Beauchamp made more than 25 bags for the project. Queensland has sent 250 to Sydney in preparation for the event.”We thought we would try and get 100 made here in Queensland but we’ve ended up with more than 250 bags … (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Ms Beauchamp said she was inspired by her husband who fought in Vietnam as well as the many young diggers she had met over the years.”My husband was in the Army for more than 20 years and I have come into contact with many young diggers,” she said.”One of the young men had been in an accident and had lost one hand and badly damaged the other.”He was so positive and had hoped to be a pilot with the Air Force, but he had to change his dream and do something different within the force.”His positivity made me think ‘yes, we can help’.”Fingers crossed for Prince HarryMs Beauchamp hopes one special guest in particular receives one of her handmade embroidered bags.
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