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Crosses from Bunbury a big comfort for patients across country

Residents from the Bethanie Esprit Retirement Village in Eaton have put their hands to good use and carved crosses to provide comfort for patients across the country.

The initiative was the brainchild of residents Taz Armstrong and Vince Cooney, who came up with the idea at the village’s men’s shed.

The pair carved the crosses from offcuts of sheoak, marri and other timbers and donated them to patients at St John of God Hospital Bunbury.

Hospital staff found the crosses were so well received by patients, they sent a box to the SJOG Pinelodge Clinic, a mental health facility in Dandenong, Victoria.

Mr Armstrong and Mr Cooney have produced hundreds of crosses for patients, with hospitals continuing to place orders.

The hand-carved crosses have also found homes in hospitals throughout Perth, with a recent order of 100 crosses being delivered to SJOG hospitals in Midland and Subiaco.

Mr Armstrong said he was delighted the crosses have had such a profound impact on the patients.

“Vince started making the crosses first, then he taught me the process,” Mr Armstrong said.

“Each cross takes about 75 minutes to complete — from cutting the timber to applying the final coat of varnish.

Between us, we’ve made about 500 crosses in the last few months and we’ll continue to make them as long as St John of God want us to.

Pinelodge Clinic pastoral services coordinator Andrew Somerville said the hand-carved crosses were treasured by all who received them and said they were a thoughtful gesture.

“A lady sat through a funeral of a loved one in one of our quiet rooms holding one of those crosses, and found so much comfort from it,” Mr Somerville said.

“These are really precious for patients here.”

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