It’s often said an Englishman’s home is his castle but the reality for some is the safe but lonely haven of the shed at the bottom of the garden.
For a little over a year Long Sutton has been home to a glorious alternative, the Men’s Shed, where blokes of all ages can tinker around to their heart’s content on a variety of projects ... or simply while away the hours chatting to new found mates over tea or coffee.Men from all walks of life have found their way there, including some in their 20s who want to learn skills from old hands. Shedders include single blokes, married men, and widowers - most are retirees - who thrive in the all-male environment.
Long Sutton Men’s Shed secretary Barry Meade, a retired dental technician, said:
“I get taken to task constantly about the ‘sexist’ project that we run but it’s a two way thing. I always make the case that I really would not be welcome at the WI or the Red Hat Society.
“We have got loads of female orientated groups in this area but there’s still nothing much for the men and it’s even worse since our bowling club closed. I think there’s things like Probus, which doesn’t appeal to everybody.
“Some ladies would love to join the Men’s Shed and we always offer to help them set up their own shed - there are some ladies who are quite keen on it and would like to do some woodwork.”
Long Sutton businessman Jack Tyrrell donated premises for the Men’s Shed - a greenhouse at Silverwood Garden Centre extending to a quarter-of-an-acre, which has now been transformed by the shedders and kitted out with a kitchen and workshop space.
Jack and Barry, advised by experienced shedder Ray Cutbill, set the Men’s Shed ball rolling with a public meeting after learning about the heartache of two men who had lost their wives.
Jack said the Men’s Shed is an antidote for loneliness but its appeal is much wider. He said:
“Half of them just want something to do, to be useful again.”
Some men have been referred by their doctors to help them cope with life’s troubles and they arrive in a welcoming environment where there are no questions and no judgements.
“We are very sociable and we are careful about what we talk about - we don’t force issues at all.”
The shedders have made their mark in a number of ways, including renovating town signs for Long Sutton, and soon their handiwork will be seen on their first market stall in the town on Friday, June 22.
Membership stands now at 58 but Jack hopes more men from the Suttons will visit the market stall and give the Men’s Shed a go. He aims to cap membership at 200.
One of the latest projects for the shedders is making a traditional shepherd’s hut (a wheeled caravan) to be used as an outside bar at events.
Members pay £10 a year to belong and drop £1 a week in the tea/coffee/biscuits kitty. The Men’s Shed opens 10am-1pm Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.