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Proud family members George Castrissios, Lexie Cassimaty and George Cassimaty, stand beside the beautiful quilt which belonged to their late cousin, sister and sister-in-law Helen Condoleon, nee Langley, a former Grafton local who took it to Greece with her and treasured it and the memories it represented until her passing in 2016. Image: Emma Pritchard.

Sewing a true friendship from Grafton to Greece

Emma Pritchard

While everything at the Clarence River Historical Society has a story to tell, the newest addition to the growing collection of precious items and artefacts has several.
It tells the story of eight women who formed a lifelong friendship as they grew up in Grafton, the boundless spirit of the Jacaranda city and a poignant reminder of never forgetting where you come from, regardless of where you go in the world.
It also tells a story of family, and of love.
When Lexie Cassimaty donated a beautiful vintage quilt on October 27, in memory of her late sister Helen Condoleon, she said it was an honour on behalf of her family to pass on the treasured gift, along with its memories, as bequeathed by her sister.
During the presentation in front of a small crowd which also included one of Mrs Condoleon’s former teachers Enid Bennett, Mrs Cassimaty spoke fondly of her sister and how her life led her from Grafton to Greece in 1971 when she relocated overseas to be closer to her husband’s family and divided her time between Athens and the island of Kythera where her parents originated from.
She also spoke about the unique friendship her sister shared, enjoyed and cherished with her friends from primary school.
Though each of them went their separate ways in life, their bond held strong and sincere throughout their lives.
It was the heartfelt thoughtfulness of Jennifer Gully, one of the group of women, who forever captured their friendship, history and memories stitch by stitch, in the exquisite quilt she made several years ago and presented to Mrs Condoleon during one of her return visits to Australia.
Mrs Cassimaty, who was present when the quilt was given to her sister, said so powerful were the emotions the work of love symbolised for the group, many tears were shed.
The quilt was subsequently taken back to Greece by Mrs Condoleon, who treasured it and the history it represented until her passing in 2016.
In accordance to her final wishes, it was returned to Australia earlier this year to be donated to the local historical society for safe keeping and preservation.
After she graciously thanked Pat James, President of the Clarence River Historical Society, for welcoming the quilt to the museum’s impressive and much-loved collection, Mrs Cassimaty said the family was passionate for her late sister’s wishes to be realised and she was humbled to be able to fulfil her promise of personally delivering it.
“I did it for my sister,” Mrs Cassimaty said lovingly.
“This is what she wished for and it meant a lot to come to Grafton, her hometown which she loved till she died.
“The quilt tells the story of Grafton, it’s Jacaranda heritage, school days at Grafton Public and Grafton High Schools, even a visit to the Grafton Show is remembered.
“It’s a memory of her and it will forever be preserved.”
 Mrs James said the historical society was “very grateful” to have been gifted the quilt.
“The detail in the quilt is beautiful and we certainly feel very privileged to have it here,” she said.
Mrs James said the quilt will be displayed on one of the cedar four-poster beds from the mid 1880’s in the front room.

President of the Clarence River Historical Society Pat James admires the quilt alongside Lexie Cassimaty who donated it to the society on behalf of her late sister Helen Condoleon nee Langley. Image: Emma Pritchard.