Our story begins with a phone call and a little job at a local upholstery factory in Nambour. Little did Darrell and Michelle Dalton know what would come from these separate and seemingly insignificant circumstances. The phone call was back in 2014 from the Regional Sports Coordinator (Special Olympics Sunshine Coast) hoping Darrell, a PGA Professional at the Nambour Golf Club would be interested in establishing a small weekly golf program for a few young people with intellectual disabilities. He was told perhaps 2 to 3 athletes would attend every week and he said, of course, he would love to do that.
Geoff & Jo Hole, Shirley Hastings & PGA Professional Darrell Dalton
First Floor, Old Ambulance Station, 80 Howard Street, Nambour
In that same year (2014) Michelle took a job at Nambour Upholstery in admin. However, the day she took the job one of the two owners had a stroke and was unable to return to work for some time. The 10 hour a week position became full time and from that, a lot of experience and opportunity came Michelle’s way. Setting up a waste management plan is not easy for a busy factory but Michelle knew to manage our waste whether in the home, in business, or in the manufacturing world was a very important matter. At first, there seemed nowhere to send the fabric sample books and upholstery fabric offcuts other than to landfill, so Michelle took them home to Buderim until they filled the garage and the spare room.
Knowing that was not the answer Michelle began searching for options. There were two problems now, one, how to support the new disability golf program Darrell had began as it was expanding greater than expected and two, what to do with hi-grade upholstery fabric offcuts and sample books.
One day Michelle woke up and the idea was right there in front of her. There was a black and white picture of her beloved Nana Nell in a gold frame laying on the floor ready to be hung up one day. As they say, it was a light bulb moment, and Michelle recounted the amazing story of Nana Nell during her time at the famous HOADS textile mill in Melbourne. It all clicked into place as Gummerson Fabrics along with Warwick, James Dunlop and Mokum had heard about Michelle taking the excess sample books and fabrics to do something with and had started sending BIG BOXES to the upholstery firm with her name on them. The owners were very kind to set them aside for Michelle to take home. The moment Michelle picked up the Gummerson sample range and held up one from HOADS (who had bought over Hoads some time back), something clicked.
Michelle’s Maternal Grandmother (Nana Nell) and the Hoads Letter from 1970
The story goes like this. Nana Nell was a young woman and a single mother working as the floor manager for HOADS. Her daughter, Shirley worked with her to help earn money for bills. Shirley had a daughter Michelle, who was too little to know anything but was told the story many years later about how Nana Nell went to her bosses (Mr. Hoad Senior and Junior). Nana Nell told them it was not right to throw away so much fabric each week. Even though she handed out freely as much as the 106 workers could take home, there was simply too much waste. The bosses did not know what to do or how to answer but Nana Nell did. She came up with a great idea…use the fabric offcuts to create a soft furnishings range of cushions. They did and it was a great success.
Michelle was the granddaughter of this amazing enterprising woman and realised that was the answer. So, with the help of the Regional Sports Coordinator and Michelle’s mum, Shirley, a beautiful range of cushions were created. The inserts were made from pulling apart the leftover Dacron – another great idea for the environment!
Michelle and her mum, Shirley
The first cushions were purchased in 2016. GPAI the charity took up residence on the first floor of the Old Ambulance Station in Howard Street.
The rest is history.