A stitch in time over 40 years

Published on LCDR Alistair Tomlinson (author), CPOIS Cameron Martin (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Kuttabul

Topic(s): Gold Commendation, Uniforms & Equipment

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan with Ms Felize Byrne following the presentation of her Chief of Navy Gold Commendation at the HMAS Kuttabul clothing store in Sydney. (photo: CPOIS Cameron Martin)
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan with Ms Felize Byrne following the presentation of her Chief of Navy Gold Commendation at the HMAS Kuttabul clothing store in Sydney.

Steeped in tradition, Navy uniforms represent a lot more than rank.

They demonstrate the mastery of complex skills, vast experience, long periods away from home, work in dangerous circumstances and above all, loyal service to Australia.

For the past 40 years, seamstress Feliza 'Feli' Byrne has ensured thousands of Navy women and men could wear their uniform with pride, confident it met dress regulations and would not fall apart under pressure.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan, recently presented Ms Byrne with a 'Gold Commendation'.

He said her exemplary dedication and professionalism had made Feli an indispensable member of the Navy family.

“You provide outstanding service to all customers and make each person feel as if they are receiving special attention, irrespective of their rank or position.

“Your expert workmanship has ensured Navy members always present well and maintain a standard that reflects the pride in the uniform they wear,” VADM Noonan said.

Feli, who commenced working for Navy shortly after arriving in Australia from the Philippines in 1980, said she was honoured to receive the Commendation and had really enjoyed helping so many people look their best.

“I never get tired of seeing the look of pleasure from Navy members when I hand back their uniform, having altered it because of promotion or specialisation achievement.

“For many, this change represents the final proof that their hard work and determination has been worth it,” Ms Byrne said.

Still working full time at an age when Navy members have long since retired, 69 year-old Feli says she has no plans to retire.

“I love my job and with Anzac Day fast approaching, I appreciate how important it is for all Navy personnel to look their best on that special day,” Ms Byrne said.

Imagery is available on the Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20190403.