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Feeling low prompts Yvonne to sew

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on May 24, 2022

Retired dressmaker Yvonne McNabb had been feeling quite down in the dumps following a couple of changes in her health.
A resident at Edmund Hillary Retirement Village for the past eight years, Yvonne regularly whips up beautiful quilts and creations for the village raffles and markets using her admirable sewing skills.
However, she feared this might all come to an end following the news late last year that she had macular degeneration.
“I thought ‘that’s the sewing gone!’ That really got my tail down,” says the normally upbeat Yvonne who also coaches gymnastics at local schools.

Being a prolific sewer with a room in the apartment she shares with husband Alex dedicated to her machines and boxes of fabric, this truly was depressing news.
Then, just recently came another diagnosis, this time relating to her lungs.
“I had been cleaning the bathroom with bleach and the bleach fumes brought it out.
“I have never smoked but the doctors are connecting it to complications from the rheumatic fever I had when I was 10.”
The diagnosis meant her hours spent coaching the young gymnasts would have to end too, compounding her desolate feelings.
“I hadn’t touched the sewing machine for four months. I’m not going to be able to go back to my school kids. I was sulking,” she admits.
Yvonne is on steroids to help her lungs but unfortunately that has kept her awake at night.
However, it was in the wee small hours that inspiration struck.
“I was thinking I might have to start getting rid of some of this fabric – I’ve got boxes upon boxes of 2.5 inch squares – so I decided to see how many quilt tops I can make.
“I can’t sleep at night so I might as well do something!”
Sure enough, Yvonne set herself a four week timeframe to see how many quilt tops she could put together.
“I went through them all and picked out all the colours, and the size was determined by what I could get out of each colour.”
Yvonne has since produced 20 quilt tops of varying sizes, patterns and colours using the many donated fabrics and op shop finds she has accrued over the years.
The plan then was to take a week off before setting a second eight-week target to bind and quilt together.
“The depression has gone,” she says triumphantly. “I have got so enthusiastic and have got all these things in my mind now.”
Yvonne is from a large family – with an older brother and five sisters – who she says are great for encouraging her and bringing her back to a positive perspective, as were her neighbours in the apartment block.
But it was her own useful advice that worked in the end.
“This is what I say to my young gymnasts. You don’t give up, you never say no, you don’t say you can’t and you always say we try.”

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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