Last year those of us at Mens Shed in Torrington were given notice to quit the premises we have occupied for the last six years. Our landlord, the local football club, want to extend their social facilities and we occupied the only space where they could easily do that. Our main workshop, outside storage, additional outside work shed would have to find a new home.
Once we had slightly recovered from the shock and numbness that comes with this kind of announcement we had to set about exploring the alternatives. Numerous leads, false leads, non starters saw us reaching out to our local contacts. None of them came to any fruition. Weeks, then months passed and false hopes seemed to be dashed at every turn. The sense of impending despair and loss of our much loved workshop and all it signified weighed heavily on us and like the prisoner who had resigned himself to his fate we prepared for the worst.
Unknown to most of the Shed members we had a quiet contact within the local church. Careful, quite long winded (it was the C of E) discussions raised the possibility of using the redundant storage and work space in the old nursery site in the walled garden next to the Vicarage. Further, quite long winded discussions went backwards and forwards in the Church Council and eventually an agreement was made that we could renovate and refurbish the old building. The weight of impending loss changed to hope, optimism and renewed energy.
The work of funding raising began and discussions with local businesses, councillors, tradesmen got underway. Fund raising can be an exasperating duty but after many revised submissions we gradually saw grants and donations come our way. Mid May, saw the new roof go on our building. We have already rebuilt and extended our wooden shed. We have fitted an old conservatory roof onto what was the propagating room for the nursery and this will be our tea room. Once the roof is on the building the work of kitting out the workshop will begin, electrics, water, benching, wood burning stove. The site does not have mains drainage but we will dig a filter system. At the far end of our space we will dig a compost toilet. If we can find the funding we plan to fit solar panels to our roof.
It would not be understating the point to use the metaphor that of out of the ashes new hopes can rise. Having to make visible contact with our community has revealed how well we are thought of and this reinforces what we all know are the very significant benefits of what the Mens Shed do.