A plea made by a group of patchworkers to help find their stolen quilts has been heard internationally.
When thieves stole 15 beloved quilts from a community hall in Wauchope, on the New South Wales mid-north coast, the quilters turned to social media for help.
President of the Wauchope Patchwork Quilters Helen Clunas posted on a community Facebook group looking for information and in just two days her post had been shared more than 4,000 times.
“Within 24 hours it had spread to America, to Ireland, to Canada [and] every state in Australia,” she said.
Thieves broke in and stole quilts from the Rotary Youth Hall in Wauchope. (ABC Mid North Coast: Kirstie Wellauer)
“Within 36 hours we now have over 3,500, nearly 4,000 shares of that message.”
A sewing machine belonging to a 72-year-old member of the patchwork quilters, and $200 in charity donations, were also taken during the break-in.
“Members, of course, were devastated,” Ms Clunas said.
Since posting on Facebook, Ms Clunas has been overwhelmed with calls offering support and donations.
“We’ve had offers for sewing machines to replace ones that were lost, offers of fabric … and we’ve even had people as far away as Canberra volunteer to make quilts for us,” she said.
“The quilt community and the community in general has just been absolutely amazing with their support.”
Stolen quilts were destined for charity
Nurse Lynette Barker says each quilt was individual and different. (ABC Mid North Coast: Kirstie Wellauer)
The stolen quilts were just days away from being donated to the local palliative care ward.
Wauchope Hospital Palliative Care nurse Lynette Barker said the unique quilts made a big difference for her patients.
“If people like roses or they like dogs, we have the quilts that we can match to the right patient,” she said.
“It makes them feel like they’re at home.”
In the meantime, the Wauchope Patchwork Quilters have begun work to replace what was lost.
“Machines are running hot at the moment,” Ms Clunas said.
“Members are madly trying to make replacement quilts.”
Ms Clunas believes the stolen quilts might end up in local market stalls.
But it will be risky business with the Australian quilting community on the lookout.
“I don’t like anyone’s chances of people trying to sell them at markets, because there are thousands of eyes watching,” she said.