A hug you can keep
Tell me about yourself
I’m Val, a retired secondary Maths teacher (although that was my third ‘career’), who has now developed a passion for quilting. I live in the North East of England.
I have two daughters - one living with her husband and two sons in St. Albans, and the other married to an American and living in Memphis, Tennessee.
How do we know each other?
Since Coraline was born, I have been full of admiration at what a wonderful mother she has become and how inspirational she has become in sharing her experiences so that she can help others. I arranged to meet up with her in London recently and was thrilled to be able to give Coraline a small quilt I’d made for her.
What did you say to me in the early days of Coraline’s arrival?
“Congratulations to the both of you and especially to Coraline for choosing you as her very special parents. The unconditional love you now feel will never disappear! Have fun!”
Through Liz’s blog, I’ve learned so much about Coraline and how family and friends have supported them all, and it’s such a pleasure to watch Coraline grow.
Talk to me about 'A hug you can keep’
My interest in quilting started just after I retired (although I’d sewn since I was a teenager). It has led me down lots of different roads, and one of those is becoming involved in Project Linus .
Project Linus was started in the nineties over in the U.S. and has become a truly international volunteer organisation. The project involves volunteers making and donating quilts (and knitted blankets) to local hospitals and other children’s services. These are given to children as their own ‘comfort’ blanket.
The name of the project comes from Linus, the cartoon character who was always seen carrying a comfort blanket around with him.
The quilts that are given to the children become theirs forever, so not only do they give comfort while in hospital but they can continue to give comfort and a feeling of security after they’ve left hospital. The tag line of Project Linus U.K. is ‘a quilt is a hug you can keep’ and that is such a true statement.
Each area in the U.K. has a regional co-ordinator who organises fundraising and the collection and distribution of quilts, and my local co-ordinator, along with two of her close friends, also organises a monthly workshop where anyone interested in making quilts can go along to learn and contribute. It’s such wonderful community to be part of, and for me it’s a complete ‘win-win’ as I have been able to learn so many new techniques in quilting while creating and donating quilts for this wonderful organisation. You can see what our local group achieves on https://www.facebook.com/LinusStockton1/ .
What are you passionate about?
Making the most of every day and giving where I can, and even though I’m retired, I still love to learn new things, particularly if they are to do with quilting!
What would you like to say to Coraline?
Coraline - make the most of every day and share your smile with everyone around you.
Anything you would like to add?
I feel honoured to have been able to share in reading Liz’s experiences and to have met Coraline. I’m thrilled that Liz can now follow her dreams in writing so passionately as she does, knowing that not only is it helping her but that she will help so many others.
What are you currently reading?
My days are so full that I don't have a lot of time for reading, but I’ve just started reading ‘Origin’ by Dan Brown.
Note from Liz
Coraline spent her first 48 hours in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (N.I.C.U.) and she had a little square of fabric with her with my scent on it. I had one too, and we would swap them so that the scent of me remained strong for her.
You can also see a picture of Coraline with a donated knitted blanket which the hospital gave us and which we have at home now amongst her treasured first things.
Just as Val says, we were given the blanket to take home. We also took home the square of fabric which is in a box of her first things. Val said at the time, “I'm sure you will but keep that square - it will mean so much to you, and later to Coraline.”
When Val gave us the absolutely beautiful handmade quilt for Coraline this June 2018, we were so touched. There’s so much skill and artistry in it, and it is so meaningful. It is Coraline’s very own hug to keep from Val.