Ayr and Prestwick Men’s Shed

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CHERRY SODA

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Doing Good Work

David Milloy

There’s a realisation, somewhat belated it must be said, that men’s health and wellbeing is a matter of some considerable importance.
Of course, realising that something is an issue in need of attention is of little value unless that realisation is accompanied by action. It was such a combination of knowledge and deeds that resulted in the creation of the first men’s shed in Goolwa, Australia in the 1990s.
It came about when Maxine Chaseling, a co-ordinator at an activity centre for older people, noticed that her father, who had retired early on medical grounds, seemed only to have retained any sense of purpose when he was working in his shed. This lack of purpose and direction was, she noted, also prevalent in men who attended the activity centre where she worked. So having resolved to do something about it, she set up a men’s shed at the activity centre, intending that it be a place where men could work and socialise together, enabling them to rediscover their sense of purpose and thus enjoy better mental health. It was an inspired notion and it worked.
It took time, however, for the idea to spread, first throughout Australia and then internationally. Indeed, it wasn’t until 2015 that The Scottish Men’s Sheds Association was set up. And now, eight years on, a Men’s Shed has opened in Ayr.
The opening of Ayr and Prestwick Men’s Shed (we’ll call it ‘APMS’ for short) at Taylor Street in Ayr was the culmination of a process that began in 2021 at Kingcase Church Hall in Prestwick, where a handful of men held meetings to discuss setting up a Men’s Shed. The number of men attending the meetings began to increase, the project gained impetus, and the search for premises began.
After missing out on the first premises identified as being suitable, a renewed search resulted in the Taylor Street premises being let to APMS. Of course, finding premises is one thing, furnishing and equipping them is quite another, and that’s where Peter Agnew entered the picture.
Peter, a business unit controller for Stanley Black & Decker, visited the premises prior to their opening, in the hope that he might be able to help in some way, mental health and wellbeing being subjects close to his heart. This visit led him to speak to his employers, who responded with great generosity.
With their help and that of charities, local businesses, funding bodies, and individuals, plus the tireless work of the APMS Committee and members, the premises were able to make the jump from an empty space filled only with great promise and great intentions to a place where men can go to work and socialise together.
The Ayr and Prestwick Men’s Shed is open to those aged 18 and over, there’s no joining fee, and you don’t need to have any particular skill or ability in order to join. It’s currently open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 10am and 2pm but it’s hoped that it will soon start to open on selected evenings as well.
It’s still early days for APMS, but even so it currently has about 150 active members, of whom around 40 to 50 are frequent visitors to the shed itself. It’s a friendly, welcoming place where there’s always something happening, the kettle is always on, and there’s usually a packet of biscuits to hand.
APMS’s objectives are quite simply, to quote astronaut Gus Grissom, to “do good work”. And as APMS is a registered charity, you can help them by making a donation of money or material; it will be gratefully received, and you too will be doing good work.
Ayr and Prestwick Men’s Shed, 1A Taylor Street, Ayr
www.ayrprestwickmensshed.org.uk

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