Spring 2014 Newsletter

Houston Boy Scout
stitches baby quilts 
to honor his mother by Deborah Quinn Hensel

It started with a blue and white baby quilt and multiplied into eight more—a good deed paid forward by a 13-year-old Houston Boy Scout.

When Jackson Cloyd first entered the world on August 18, 2000, he was an unexpected surprise for his mother, Gwendolyn, who thought she had another 18 weeks of pregnancy to go.

Her obstetrician had cleared her to go to London to visit her husband, Myron, at Cambridge University. But the long trans-Atlantic flight triggered a trip straight from the airport to the hospital and an early delivery.

Weighing only one pound, 10 ounces at birth, Jackson had a four-month struggle in the neonatal ICU of London's St. Guy's Hospital before he was strong enough to go home. When he finally did, he was wrapped in a baby
quilt presented by midwife Mary Mulkerrins, whose mother was part of a quilting circle.

The 22-inch square quilt with light blue patches that depict animals and flowers from the English countryside became a flag of hope for Jackson’s parents—one that he still treasures inside a keepsake box with other mementos. He was just two years old when his mother first developed cancer, and she eventually lost her struggle with that disease in 2008.

Now a Boy Scout in Houston's Troop 740 and an eighth grader at Johnston Middle School, Jackson decided that one good deed deserves eight more. So, as a tribute to his mother, he wanted to make that many baby quilts to give to other infants in need.

He says the idea came about when he was pondering the community service component to earn his Eagle Scout rank, and his father suggested he find a project that was particularly meaningful to him.

"That quilt gave my parents hope and warmth and love," he says. "And so I figured, if other people are going through that same situation, then I could give them those feelings through a quilt."

Michelle Barnes and Leslie Abrams of the Jubilee Quilt Circle, which meets every Thursday in Midtown Houston, were happy to help him learn the skills he needed to spread that warmth. Michelle lent him her sewing machine so he could work on the project at home.  He started with four simple designs and a plan to make two of each.

"My favorite one is red and blue and it has like, little monsters and stuff on it," he says. Each machine-stitched quilt bears a label that says, ‘From one preemie to another.’"

"He is so organized and so eager to learn," Michelle says, adding that those qualities made him an ideal student. It's important to pass along the skills
of the quilting craft to the next generations, she said, because quilting is
about setting goals, developing confidence as goals are reached, and
learning patience.

"It was really difficult at first, but as I went on, it got easier and easier," Jackson says. It's perfectly okay for boys to sew, he added, because a sewing machine is just like any other power tool. Along with quilting and Scouting, Jackson
said he also enjoys Mixed Martial Arts, wrestling, video games, and making paper airplanes.

It would have been simple to box up the eight finished quilts and mail them to the hospital in London, but Jackson and his father wanted to make it a more personal experience over Spring Break in March.

”I hadn't been back to London since I was born," he says. "So we thought it would be a good idea to go and see the sights, but I could also meet the people who took care of me.

"We met the caregiver who gave me the quilt and the doctor who helped keep me developing. She was just really surprised that I brought the quilt with me and she was really thankful."

Seeing other preemie babies in the neonatal ward was just "a cool experience," Jackson says.

"I got kind of emotional, but it was a good experience because I realized 'I was here 13 years ago,' and now I'm all grown up.

"Before this, I had never thought about quilting. I thought it was just something old people do, but it's really fun,” he adds.

In addition to learning a new skill, he says he also learned another
important lesson.

"I learned you should always try something new and not knock it, because you might actually enjoy it. I really enjoy quilting now. I had a great time."

Photo cutlines:

Photos 2-5—Photos of Jackson at work on the eight quilts he donated to London’s St. Guy’s Hospital.

Photo 6 (Below)—Quilter Michelle Barnes working with Jackson on one of the quilts he created.


Above: Jackson with one of the finished quilts
he donated to London’s St. Guy’s Hospital.






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