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Never boring, never dull: friends celebrate nearly 40 years of craft

By Vanessa Wiltshire

EVERY Tuesday morning at Heathcote Health’s activity room you’ll find plenty of laughter and natter. For several years, Heathcote’s craft group has met here.

From knitting, to embroidery, applique, crochet, quilting and more, the ladies work steadily as they sip hot tea and tuck into cake.

Don’t be fooled though, this is not a quiet gathering of little old ladies. Friends, let it be known now: older people can — and do — have fun.

Conversation is always engaging and sometimes it even gets a little risque: gin, wine, chocolate, and some other things.

Gail is president. She and Jan are working on a beautiful quilt, started by another member.

“She’s too ill to finish it, but has sewed 1200 squares by hand,” Gail said.

“We are wondering what we’ve got ourselves in for, but it’s too much work to just leave in the cupboard. It will be beautiful when it’s done”.

Lois, 84, is a founding member of the group. She cannot remember the exact year they started, but it says it was "at least three years before 1988". Maybe even as early as 1981.

“There were no books in those days,” Lois said. "We didn’t keep records or dates.”

To mark the beginnings of the group — and the anniversary, which is in October — there is a 31-year-old quilt that hangs ceiling to floor. It took three years to make.

The hand-sewn squares are reminders of what makes Heathcote, Heathcote: Pink Cliffs; Lake Eppalock; Heathcote Hospital; industries that created the town — mining, timber and wool.

When asked what the secret is to keep a group going for nearly 40 years, the ladies say it's about friendship.

“It’s a community where we share all our news,” a lady called Marion says.

Most women have been members for several years. They come from town and further afield, including Redesdale and Mia Mia.

Lois, who has been crocheting since 1945, said crafts are a way to relax. “A bit like a good book, except you can watch TV at the same time. But not with crochet. Every time I do that, I end up making mistakes.”

The Heathcote Craft Group meets on Tuesdays from 9am to 2pm at the activities room behind the hospital. There is a cost of $4 per person, which includes tea and coffee.