500th 'ray of sunshine' quilt delivered to Manning Hospital palliative care ward

The 500th Ray of Sunshine Quilt is delivered to Manning Hospital Palliative Care Ward on Tuesday, August 27. Pictured are palliative care staff members Emma McLeod, Renae Snelgrove, Pam Eyb of Taree Craft Cottage, Sally Drury, Sarah Kerville and Phillip Blenkin.
The 500th Ray of Sunshine Quilt is delivered to Manning Hospital Palliative Care Ward on Tuesday, August 27. Pictured are palliative care staff members Emma McLeod, Renae Snelgrove, Pam Eyb of Taree Craft Cottage, Sally Drury, Sarah Kerville and Phillip Blenkin.

In July 2015 Nursing Sister Sally Drury who works in the palliative care ward of Manning Hospital, contacted Pam Eyb of Taree Craft Cottage with a special request.

Sally asked if it was possible to have small, colourful patchwork quilts made to brighten the rooms of terminally ill patients.

The quilts would be given to family members as a treasured keepsake.

At first, Pam thought this was an impossible task. Patchwork quilts are very time-consuming and costly to make and as an ongoing project, it would be asking a lot of our local quilters.

However, with Taree Craft Centre behind her, Pam put Sally's message out to the public and the name chosen was "Ray of Sunshine Quilt Project".

The immediate response saw many quilts flow in from local and outlying areas.

This continued for a few months, but it was inevitable that the number of quilts coming in would slow down, and not meet the demand.

It was at this time that MidCoast (NSW) Community Quilters contacted Pam with the following message: "We can provide 100 quilts per year for Taree Palliative Care Ward!"

This is a small group of women who meet at Belbora, near Gloucester who spend most of their spare time quilting for good causes. Each year they make and donate close to 500 quilts to various charities.

So four years later the "Ray of Sunshine Quilt Project" is still going strong and recently the 500th quilt was delivered to the hospital.

MidCoast Community Quilters have honoured their pledge and every six weeks deliver a dozen quilts to Taree Craft Cottage. Dolphin Quilters of Old Bar and Town and Country Quilters of Taree continue to support the project as well.

"We are so grateful to the wonderful, generous people who initially got the project off the ground," project co-ordinator Pam Eyb said. "And to the groups who continue to make and donate quilts, words are not enough to express our gratitude."

Nurse Sally Drury and her staff see firsthand what a difference the quilts make when introduced into a room.

"The colourful quilts transform the grey, sterile rooms and lift the mood of all who enter," Sally said.

"When the quilt is gifted to family members, it means the world to them and we really appreciate the support of Taree Craft Cottage and the talent and generosity of our local quilting groups."