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Thanking veterans with a warm hug

Quilts of Valour and local quilting group present Hillcrest Lodge veterans with customized quilt
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QOV Edmonton chapter member Todd Hussey presents Herman Barkemeyer with his quilt. Photo credit: Barry Kerton B/L

Hillcrest Lodge veterans received a belated Remembrance Day thank you.

On Nov. 16, as part of the lodge’s first annual veterans tea, Quilts of Valour with the help of a local quilting group, the Stitchers and Rippers, gave nine Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veterans  living at Hillcrest Lodge and Klondike Place a token of their appreciation for their service in the form of a quilt. The Stitcher and Rippers also made quilts for veterans in Fort Assiniboine.

Quilts of Valour (QOV) is an organization whose purpose is to show their appreciation to veterans and current CAF personnel for their service by giving them a hand-made quilt.

It was founded in 2006 by Edmonton quilter Lezley Zwaal when she watched a local TV news story featuring three injured soldiers who had recently returned home to Edmonton from Kandahar.

As part of the story, the reporter interviewed another soldier who was recovering from a previous incident.

QOV member Todd Hussey, who is a veteran and quilter, who was in Barrhead to help present the quilts to the veterans, said Zwaal noticed there was no quilt in the soldier’s room.

She then took three quilts to the hospital where the soldiers were being cared for.

After receiving positive comments from both the soldiers and their families, Zwaal decided to see if she could start a Canadian chapter of the Quilts of Valour Foundation.

After speaking with its co-ordinator, she was quickly able to form a Canadian chapter. In 2009, QOV became a registered charity.

“Since that point Quilts of Valour volunteers have made and distributed more than 14,000 quilts,” Hussey said, noting by 2020 they hope to hit 20,000.

He added that as a veteran, he knows the impact of receiving a QOV can have.

“It is like receiving a warm hug,” he said.

Hussey also thanked the Stitchers and Rippers for their efforts.

“As a quilter, the work, the love and the dedication that it takes to create a quilt deserving of the veterans of this country,” he said.

Hussey noted although each of the quilts is custom made and its design is unique, QOV has a set of basic guidelines as to the size and preferred use of materials.

Herman Barkemeyer, a 10-year CAF veteran, whose service including an 18-month tour as part of Canada’s United Nation’s contribution in the Korean War, said he was honoured to receive a quilt.

“It means a lot to us veterans to be recognized for our service,” he said.

For more information about QOV visit