During these strange and difficult times, its heartwarming to hear a story of positivity and joy. It was during a chance conversation at the Festival of Quilts that we learned of Lynne Elwell's wonderful work helping children with disabilities. We're delighted she accepted our invitation to share her story:
I worked as a photographer until having my children. When my eldest daughter Nicola became disabled at the age of eight months, I made the decision to stay at home to support and educate her.
It was through Nicola that I became aware of the traditional attitude to disabled people from society and from the services set up to support them. I found that the responses to our requests for help and support didn’t fit or work for Nicola. I didn’t have the information or strategies to make sure that Nicola got the best support to have a good life; all I had were my instincts and emotions. I decided to learn more.
For most of my adult life I have taken part in and led training. Designing and developing work to help disabled people develop social networks through Circles of Support and Leadership courses. I have also renewed my interest in photography, working with people who have disabilities to produce positive images of people.
Sadly Nicola died in 2003. I didn’t want to lose all that we had learnt from having her in our lives and started to reflect on the things that worked well for her.
I have always loved sewing and made quilts for Nicola. She needed a lot of hospital visits and was able to take the quilts from home to hospital: they smelt of home and brought her comfort.
For the past 10 years I have been making quilts for children and young people who have long term health conditions. I make a cuddle size quilt and a bag to put it in, with a pocket for parents/carers to put a note or a little toy. It has been important to me to use the best material, wadding and backing for the quilts.
I first came across Oakshott fabric at the Festival of Quilts some years ago. The beautiful colours and quality of the cotton stood out; its perfect for the quilts I make.
The children love the jewel like colours and its a joy to work with. I have added to my ‘Oakshott stash‘ whenever possible and Michael was kind enough to add samples and off cuts to my recent order. That weekend I made a lovely quilt which has gone to Scotland (the families I know live all over the UK).
Today I received this message:
I love the quilt, what an amazing gift! It completely lifted my spirits on a very difficult day with colours of hope.
I so enjoy designing and making these quilts and know they are valued by the families who get them. Messages like this make all the effort so worthwhile.