Tuesday 11 November 2014

WW1 Centenary Quilt may come to Ireland

Philippa McCray's gt uncle, Richard
Stringer, was her inspiration
As it's Armistice Day today, I thought I'd write about a WW1 centenary project that has a strong family history theme. It's the First World War Centenary Quilt, which was launched back in January by Philippa McCray, the Administrator for the Federation of Family History Societies.

She came up with the Centenary Quilt idea as a way to commemorate in fabric and thread those who served in the British or Commonwealth forces during WW1 and did not return. She thought it would appeal to family historians and others who would like to commemorate a member of their family or someone in their local community, and raise funds for two very worthy causes: Help for Heroes and Quilts for Injured Servicemen (Q4IS).

I heard about the project from Anne Robinson, Chair of the North of Ireland Family History Society, when we were chatting at WDYTYA? in London back in April. Anne had already worked her squares at that point.

Those taking part make a donation to the project and receive a square of fabric and red thread with which they can record the details of the soldier who died. You don't need to be related to the soldier.

I don't have any close ancestors who died in WW1, so I chose to commemorate a young man, Daniel Santry, who lived in Bandon, not far from where my paternal granddad was raised. I had carried out some research on his family some years ago – there's just a faint possibility our two lines meet in the very early 1800s, but I haven't been able to prove it – and knew that, with both parents dead, there was only his brother, Daniel, to mourn him when he was killed in 1918. Daniel subsequently emigrated to the USA.

And then I decided, what the heck, and chose another Santry – Patrick – as well.

With humility (and the hope that the joyless Sr Mary Lawrence isn't still on a mission to criticise my stitching skills) I present photos of my two embroidered squares which are now on their way back to Philippa.

She says that she will continue to send out the fabric/thread packs until the end of the year, so there's still time to make your contribution to it. See the WW1 Centenary Quilt website for details of how to take part and for some design inspiration.

When all the stitched squares have been sent back, there's just the small (ha ha) matter of stitching them together. Philippa told Irish Genealogy News that Brenda Lincoln, who is one of the team behind Q4IS, will be masterminding the construction of the hangings.

"I use the word 'hangings' because the project is proving so successful there will be far too many squares for one quilt!", she said. "We have lots of ideas for final design but will not make any firm decision until we have all the squares back. We plan to display in a variety of locations and I'm hoping to bring it to Ireland."

As you can see from my efforts, you don't need to be an expert with the needle. It doesn't take a lot of time, and you can adjust the level of detail or embellishment as you prefer. And the minimum donation is just £3.50. Don't delay if you want to take part!

You can follow the progress of the Quilt on facebook.