Retired people have a lot to offer our society and that’s clearly obvious at the Thirroul Men’s Shed.
Established by Austi resident Peter Snodgrass six years ago, the group now attracts around 30 local men who come together each week to use their skills, to learn new skills, and to share a lifetime of experience.
So successful is the group, they’ve all but outgrown their current location and are about to sign a lease on exciting new premises.
“Austinmer Lions Club has been incredibly supportive,” says Men’s Shed spokesman Bob Ascoli. “They put aside money to help us secure a permanent residence. We also successfully won an IMB Community Grant and that money will be used for dust extractors, security fencing and storage.
“While details have not been finalised on the new premises, it promises to open up a world of possibilities, with room to spread out their tools and carry on with their amazing projects.
“We provide the skills and the labour. The community group just pays for the materials.
The Men’s Shed is currently building a bridge which will be installed at Austinmer Primary School.
Austi P&C spokesperson Louise Manner says they’re grateful to be partnering with the Men’s Shed. ” The school has no play equipment,” she says. “So we have applied for Government grants to establish outdoor learning spaces. This area of the school will be given a nautical feel and the bridge is an integral part of that.
“Playground equipment is really expensive, which makes it hard for a P&C to fund. The Men’s Shed was able to help out, and make the project affordable, so the kids will have something to fire-up their imaginations!”
Bob says the Men’s Shed has also done work on the Clifton School of Arts as well as made a series of boxes which were used to build a Christmas Tree at Austinmer Anglican Church. “We now have blokes on lathes making the trees and snowmen to go into the boxes for this Christmas,” he says.
Bob says some men bring projects from home, and some are learning woodturning, which means some are teaching wood turning!
“We worked together to restore the boat in the Thirroul Bowling Club,” says Bob. “Now we are restoring a set of oars. And we love to come together for a chat!”
The Men’s Shed also has a special interest group running each Wednesday, to explore the possibilities of Photoshop. Member (and Mens Shed founder) Peter, says the group gives the men a forum to talk and learn that otherwise would not be available to them.
“As an added bonus, one of our members has come up with an amazing program that could change digital photography forever. It’s incredible what happens when experienced people spend time together!”