CREATIVE FINGERS: Airlie Meiklejohn, Patricia Winnell, volunteer Lesley Forbes and her daughter Amber, Allison Ferguson and Rita Petersons.
CREATIVE FINGERS: Airlie Meiklejohn, Patricia Winnell, volunteer Lesley Forbes and her daughter Amber, Allison Ferguson and Rita Petersons.

Queen gives nod to impressive wedding dress creation

IT'S not often you receive a letter saying "well done" from the Queen of England.

But that's exactly what has happened for a group of women at Arcare aged care at Hope Island.

It all started with lifestyle co-ordinator Allison Ferguson and volunteer Lesley Forbes who, Allison admitted, think "a little out of the box" when it comes to activities that will give residents a sense of community, purpose and empowerment.

Last year the group created poppies which made it to Turkish shores for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. How could they possibly better that feat?

Airlie Meiklejohn, Patricia Winnell, Rita Petersons and Carol Smart, as well as Lesley and Allison, hand-crocheted 1000 flowers, gathered and stiffened them, sewed on about 5000 pearls, glued on diamantes, and made it all into a breathtaking vintage wedding dress, which features doilies up to 100 years old, gathered from residents, family and friends.

They added a head piece and veil, brooch bouquet and crochet-covered shoes with pearls and flowers and the job was done.

It sounds like an almost impossible job, but even more so when you realise they only had four residents to pull it off.

The year-long project has taken the world by storm, from claiming first prize in the Wearable Art division at the Gold Coast Show, to earning the Queen's words of praise for the ladies' "meticulous care .... wonderful individual talents", "dedication" and "tremendous achievement".

Allison said the ladies were delighted to receive the letter, which each of them would receive a copy of at a special Vintage Day.

The creation, titled Vintage Goddess - Spirit of our Heritage, was also presented to much acclaim at this year's National Dementia Conference in Melbourne, and now sits in the Arcare foyer for all to marvel at and be reminded that anything is possible - regardless of your age.


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