‘From a code-breaker to a code-breaker’
During the Second World War, the success of the work at Bletchley Park was in many ways down to teamwork. Everyone had a role to play, some large, some small, but all vital in helping to build the ‘big picture’.
It was with this in mind that GCHQ members of staff were inspired to give their time and effort to produce a GCHQ quilt that will be on display at Bletchley Park
from 25-26th February 2012.
Called ‘From a Code-breaker to a Code-breaker’, to reflect the close bonds and the shared history between GCHQ in Cheltenham, and Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes, this 70” (1.77800 metres) wide by 90” (2.28600 metres) long quilt consists of forty-seven individual patches, each representing a different aspect of the GCHQ story, from the work of those great people at Bletchley Park who were the forerunners of today’s GCHQ, through to the multimedia and internet world that we inhabit today. The end result of all these individual pieces of work is a kaleidoscope of colour and topics all merged into one large visually stunning quilt.
The GCHQ quilt was the brainchild of Jenny, who was inspired to draw all the talents currently available at GCHQ together by the plans at Bletchley Park for a Quilting Exhibition.
“As a member of the Quilter’s Guild I read in their magazine in early 2011 that there was going to be a quilt exhibition at Bletchley Park called ‘Secret Messages’ in Feb 2012– knowing that there were several other quilters at GCHQ, I thought it would be great to enter a quilt from GCHQ, particularly given that 2012 is the 100th Anniversary of Alan Turing's birth. When I publicised the event internally and asked for volunteers who could make a square at home, I was overwhelmed to get responses from all over the Department.”
The volunteers came from all areas of GCHQ, one of whom was Georgina who created the ‘Modern Communication’ patch (White column – patch number 5)
“My design was intended to be a representation of modern communication rather than a true likeness, so I allowed for some artistic license. In all, I spent three evenings, non- stop stitching, having left it all a little late by forgetting to take it on holiday with me!”
So what do the contributors think of the finished product? Another contributor, Jan who created the ‘Alan Turing statue’ patch (Red column – patch number 3) says,
“It was a lot of fun and there’s a great sense of pride and satisfaction when you look at what a wonderful thing we all produced. Individually the squares looked lovely; as a whole, it was breathtaking”.
The quilting won’t be ending with the Bletchley Park event as some members of staff will be helping out in the Quilt4London project which is aiming to make a quilted or embroidered pennant for every athlete participating in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Longer term, the quilt will be given pride of place in the Doughnut.