Seachange Arundel resident Leigh Bartelt is selflessly providing comfort to those in need, hand-making cannula sleeves, and sensory mats for people living with dementia. Leigh experienced dementia first-hand with her late husband, Fred Bartelt, who passed away last year. While caring for him, she realised those living with dementia should have access to cannula sleeves and sensory mats. “My husband spent the last five years of his life in aged care, so I truly know the complexity of this illness,” said Leigh. “The sleeves protect arms while the mats act as a stimulation activity for fidgety hands. The mats really help reduce stress for those prone to restlessness and agitation.”
Leigh is not only dedicated to helping people; she also helps Australian wildlife by sewing pouches, wraps, and mittens for injured animals. “It’s crazy to think 12 months ago I did very little sewing, knitting or crocheting,” she said. “It’s funny how one small request through the Animal Rescue Craft Guild back in November last year has created so many activities and opportunities for me. “I now sew pouches for animals and got into this last year after the fires, starting with koala mittens, bat wraps, and all other small mammals.”
When COVID-19 hit, Leigh’s sewing attention turned to making medical scrubs, caps, and masks to help essential workers. Leigh explained there is a network of Australian women dedicated to sewing, knitting, and often self-resourcing to help hospitals have the necessary garments for patients and workers. “I am just one of many very wonderful women who spend all their spare dollars at Spotlight and even Bunnings to add more colours or exciting tassels to our sewing pieces. It’s incredible what gets added to these sensory mats now. Children’s toy boxes are often raided, too,” laughed Leigh.
Leigh’s notable enthusiasm is a testament to her selflessness and demonstrates that small things can make a huge difference.