“It’s changed my life. It’s given me a purpose,” Peter Vickery said of the Inverell Community Men’s Shed.
Established in 2007 as a place to improve the physical and mental health of local men through handmade projects and friendships, the shed celebrates its 10th anniversary today.
At a loss of what to do when ripped rotator cuffs, an injured back and knees ruled out full time work, Mr Vickery joined the shed on recommendation from his psychologist. He never regretted it.
“I’d just sit at home bored - it’s only three hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but it just gives you that outlet,” he said.
“I’m one of the youngest fellas, and the old blokes of 80 and 90, they reckon if it wasn’t for the Men’s Shed, they wouldn’t be here today.”
Mr Vickery’s welding skills mean he’s forever in demand for the community commissions the group takes on. It’s something he’s done all over Australia, and while he’s limited by his injuries, he’s thrilled to continue his passion at his own pace.
“It just fell into place here. Everything was right. The best thing to ever happen,” he said.
“I really like it here. Good mob of blokes.”
Ranging from circular seating to make the most trees surrounding Ashford’s Sunhaven Hostel to vegetable garden beds for Little Sprouts Learning Centre, the projects vary greatly.
Former industrial arts teacher Glen McKee revels in the challenges each project brings. He said every member brought something different to the table, and found sharing his own knowledge came naturally thanks to his teaching background.
He said the shed “fills a gap” in his life.
“When I moved from Moree, we downsized a lot, and that didn’t include somewhere to build things like this or do those things, so I ended up over here. I was keen to get back and do a bit of woodwork and welding and all of those things.”
“It’s one of the most marvellous things for men you could possibly establish,” farmer Bob Moore said. He said it was special to see men from so many different career paths come together for a common cause.
“You don’t have to make something, but if you want to, you can.”
Shed manager Greg Brabant said that men who retire often struggle to find an outlet to feel productive, particularly if they’re used to being the breadwinner.
“It’s having a reason to get out of bed of a morning. Can’t do much about the nights, but the days we can. It definitely does give them a purpose,” he said.
“There’s a lot of men out there that don’t have Men’s Sheds. They probably don’t think that they can do anything, but you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. But you need to come along to find out. You should never condemn anything unless you try it, and then you’ll know whether it’s for you.
“Me being an ex farmer, they’re probably the hardest blokes to get to come to the shed, because they’re very independent, very proud and it’s a pride thing with a lot of men. But once they get here, they find out we’re all the same.”
The shed will celebrate their milestone with an open day and barbecue at their Inverell Showgrounds location from 11.30am-1pm today, Friday, October 13.
The Men’s Shed is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am-noon. To learn more, call 6722 3013 or visit their Facebook page.