Place of connections and creativity

RECENT ADDITION: Menz Shed members Dave Stewart (left) and James Brunton displaying some of the goods for sale in their new shop.
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The Ashburton Menz Shed has been going strong for 10 years.

This month members are celebrating the anniversary with a dinner and open days.

Men of all ages and from all walks of life meet to engage in woodwork, metalwork and engineering, or dabble in the paint shed, potter in the garden or work away in the computer suite.

The Menz Shed was started by Presbyterian Support to help meet a need of their male clients.

In 2014, it began in a former garden nursery packing shed on the Methven Highway. The cost of renting the premises was challenging, so the committee were on the lookout for a new venue.

WORKING TOGETHER: Members (from left) Ray Garforth, Alistair Tombs and Colin Smith.

Member David Stewart said by chance in 2016 a club member was talking to contractor Greg Donaldson, who was preparing to clear the site of Grieves Transport where Three Rivers Health now sits. On the site was a 400sqm shed.

‘‘Greg Donaldson made the offer that he would gift us the shed, providing we could have it removed within two weeks as that is when the new construction was due to start,’’ Stewart said

For 12 months the shed sat at a temporary site at ACL shingle yard, before a permanent site was found on William St. Members had negotiated with the district council to get the permanent site, and applied for funding to establish it.

In 2017 the foundations went down and the building was moved to its new home.

The Menz Shed was fortunate one of its members was retired builder Dick Hansen. He became builder, overseer and adviser to the other men who undertook 90 per cent of the work setting up the new premises.

Today there are many buildings on the site, including a busy morning tea room, where laughter is shared, fun is had, and something nice to eat is enjoyed.

VARIETY: Members (from left) Stuart Mitchell, Robin Depress and Harry Price.

A warm and inviting welcome greets both newcomers and longtime members walking through the door.

The men bring their own projects to the shed and use the tools on hand to complete their projects. Many of the tools have been donated. The talented group also undertake community projects which supports their funding. They have undertaken restoration projects including, in early years, painstakingly restoring a 100-year-old former wool wagon from Mesopotamia Station.

They recently started their own shop, which sells skilfully crafted, sturdy toys, including lawn mowers that click and penguins on sticks.

METALWORK: The Ashburton Menz Shed provides a space for Bruce Hill to work in.

As well as a place to make and create, the Menz Shed is a space where men can talk, support each other and share companionship. Some of those attending would say the Menz Shed has saved their marriage, as it gets them out of the house.

Today membership is about 70, daily attendance is about 25. Annual membership cost $40.

– The Ashburton Menz Shed on William St is holding open days on May 21, 22, 24 and 25 from 9am to 2pm to celebrate its 10th anniversary.