If you have been following the Quilts for Christmas Dinners you will maybe already have seen posts from Maggie Lloyd-Jones who started this amazing project.  Sometimes things happen that reach out to us all .. this one certainly did to many of us, and will continue for many years to come.  In Maggie’s own words:

All the blocks were with me by 26th November, and tops allocated to long armers; a big box of quilts arrived from Sarah Wickett and another load went back via the same personal courier and my daughter in Manchester ; I collected quilts in Hampshire in Waitrose’ car park; Jean Wife collected quilts from Heathrow and Gloucestershire in her campervan before collecting yet more the following week (10th and 11th December) including Coventry, and then meeting up with me in Asda car park in Hessle, East Yorkshire. 10 quilts from long armer Andrea Sharpe arrived in a biiiiig box. I could guarantee to supply Leeds, but Manchester? Nearly 100 in hand. Very nearly …..

A box of 4 was missing in transit from Dundee and Sue Commander. I knew Sarah was going to get more to me by 22nd December, and 1 more quilt was winging its way by post from yet another blogging quilter.

Squeaky bum time……

And then on 17th December I picked up 13 quilts collected for me from across Yorkshire. Breathe. Leeds and Manchester were now both on !! Could we also do a smaller dinner, I wondered. I was told that Barnsley was a new dinner and small: 16 max they thought. I said I was almost certain I could do that but wouldn’t yet commit.

Liz Fossu, chair of Leeds’ dinner, came to my home and collected the quilts, taking them away in her car, after we’d both given them a hug. My babies….

And then, the Christmas miracle sort of happened : that missing box of 4 arrived, battered but quilts safe and dry. And the singleton arrived. As did 2 quilts from Helen Howes. We’re on a roll…..and the box from Sarah arrives too. Result !!! I did not have to bind the 4 quilts I had sitting in a pile waiting patiently, and I could in fact pull some of my own quilts out of the stacks to let late arrivals go to their final destination.

And then: I’m asked in the week before Christmas, if I might have an additional 10 quilts for Manchester pretty please ?? Erm……..my own quilts plus those 4 to bind ??? Luckily for me, those additional 10 guests were redirected to another dinner. But I did agree to provide a quilt for a young man going to Wigan’s dinner who had asked for a mattress topper for his key present. A practical guy, I was told. Of course he could have a quilt. We have a photo of a very shy and overwhelmed young man, so I’ll not share it here.

So, I got to play Mrs Claus on Christmas Eve, taking Barnsley on my way to Manchester: part of Manchester’s display of the quilts is here. Guests were gathered up 3 or so at a time and the reason for the quilts explained to them. Everyone who wanted a quilt took one. Several guests did not go to the festivities and so there were 7 left over and thus a choice even for the last guests to choose. We have been sent videos of the reaction of several guests, and have their written feedback, albeit brief: good enough, and very emotional for us.

Part of the display at Leeds’ dinner. Again, guests were invited to take a quilt if they would like to do so, and were told the story. I understand that some of the guests remembered people in their lives who had quilted or sewn etc, and that became a topic of conversation for several people who had never met before. There are a few quilts to come back from Leeds, again because not all guests went to the “do”.

There was only 1 person at all 3 dinners who chose not to take a quilt: 1 of approximately 105 adults aged between 18 and 25. That to me is a stunning result. I’m told that all guests were amazed at the story behind how the quilts came to be there, as well as the workmanship, colours and patterns. And grateful: why would someone make this for me? How kind……

I would like to spread the gift of quilts to those who volunteer to be hosts at the dinners who themselves have a care history.

I was very pleased to be able to make and have Liz Fossu give a quilt to such a young man: he is about to move into his own accommodation, has trained as a social worker, is on Leeds’ dinner steering committee, and volunteers on the day. He very much fits the demographic of the care leaver the Dinner Project aims to reach, making memories and making his way in the world.

Planning for 2019 has started. My aim (once I have retrieved my living room) is to eventually spread the load across regions where the dinners were held this year, will take place next year, and where new venues may spring up. We need a minimum of 50 quilts per dinner, and now, we need something different for those who return next year and already have a quilt. The feedback from this year will help with planning for the kind of quilts to be made, and I am consulting a local to me care leaver group too.

This is a year-round project. If you’d like to make a quilt or top or blocks, please join our closed facebook group Quilts For Christmas Dinners. We have a PayPal account at QuiltsforCareLeavers@gmail.com if you’d like to make a donation. We will have a permanent need for wadding and backing, and of course postage/courier costs. To contact me by email please use qcdlm18@gmail.com

This has been a roller coaster ride for me, even until I wept tears of relief and joy on Christmas Day.

I remain in awe of the community of quilters and am honoured to be a member.

Teamwork rules, and quilters rock !!

Maggie Lloyd-Jones 28/12/18