There were more than a few moist eyes at the ten-year celebration of the Stitched Up mentoring group as 13 fresh-faced girls paraded wedding dresses first seen in Bellingen up to 65 years ago.
Many of the women who had originally worn the dresses were in the audience, Stitched Up coordinator Michelle Stockton said.
“The girls had interviewed the ladies asking about their wedding day,” Michelle said. “Kristen Collier did a wonderful job as MC and put together all the wedding stories and photos on a slideshow called ‘Beautiful Brides of Bellingen’ that played as the girls paraded the dresses.”
The anniversary event celebrated the success of the intergenerational mentoring group and honoured the women of the community who have volunteered their time every Monday afternoon in school terms to teach and support over 400 young people in their creative projects.
Related: A Stitch in Time
Nancy Taylor, one of Stitched Up’s original volunteers, had three dresses in the parade – her wedding dress, going away outfit and bridesmaid’s dress.
Born in Bellingen, Nancy was married in 1953 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, which is now the Uniting Church.
Nancy said she was thrilled to see her wedding clothes paraded so beautifully.
“I thought the girls carried it off very well,” Nancy said. “And we couldn’t have done it without Kristen. She put so much into it and did a wonderful job.”
Fay Gibson, another of the original Stitched Up volunteers, had her 1963 wedding dress in the show.
Bought at Australia’s premiere bridal store, McCann’s in Sydney, it was paraded along with the story of her incredibly hot December wedding day.
“As soon as we left the reception hall, we stopped around the corner to get out of all our wedding gear and into shorts and shirts!” she said.
The event also recognised the support of community donors who have provided sewing machines, fabric, wool and an array of other stitching and sewing resources. Thanks were given to Bellingen Rotary, the Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre and Bellingen CWA.
The greatest recognition was given to the Bellingen Uniting Church. As primary supporter of the group the Church has provided Stitched Up’s weekly meeting place at no cost, machine maintenance, materials storage and the special gift of engraved sewing scissors to every young participant.
At the high tea, community support again came to the fore, with hundreds of donated cakes, biscuits and slices served with tea and coffee by the local Bellingen Girl Guides.
Michelle Stockton said the whole day was a celebration of community.
“The continued success of the group depends on our lovely volunteers who make a huge difference to the lives of others. Their support and encouragement made our event such a warm and positive day.”
To find out more about Stitched Up, call group coordinator Michelle Stockton on 0403011597, visit their Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org