A Men’s Shed is a place where social interaction and mateship can take place and also providing the means of learning new skills, creating new ideas and receiving support and information, particularly relating to men’s health.
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In 2006 the Rotary Club of Cowra called a public meeting, chaired by Mr Con Bunnik, to see if there was enough interest in forming a Men’s Shed in Cowra.
It was quickly established that there were many men interested in the idea.
Another meeting was held a week later where a steering committee was formed with Doug Beer as chairman, Bill Bundy as secretary and Les Cox as treasurer.
The next step was to find a suitable location for the Men’s Shed.
The first site offered was the old bakery building in Bakery Lane and the second site offered was the rear of the old Guardian building on Brisbane Street.
After inspecting a number of sites, Cowra Shire Council offered the old Scout Hall in Carlton Streets adjacent to the TAFE College.
It was in a very dilapidated condition and badly vandalised.
After accepting Council’s offer in 2007, the Cowra Men’s Shed Incorporated was issued their certificate from the department of Fair Trading as an Incorporated Association on May 10.
Work started immediately on securing the site and a major restoration was commenced.
We welcomed the input of local trades staff, who helped with the construction of internal walls.
The membership at that stage was about 25.
Following the completion of the restoration and Council's approval the Official Opening was held on Saturday, April 16, 2008 by Mr John Cobb MP Federal Member for Calare.
The membership continued to grow over the next few years and it was decided to extend the premises to incorporate welding and steel work.
This work took place in the latter part of 2009 and was completed in March 2010.
As membership grew to approx. 55, in 2011, it was decided that a Passive Recreational Area was desperately needed.
A grant for the construction of this building was lodged with the NSW Government under the Community Building Partnership Program.
Fortunately a grant of $31,000 was received and cheque for this amount was presented to the Cowra Men’s Shed by Katrina Hodgkinson MP on site on April 18, 2013.
The new building was officially opened by Ms Hodgkinson on April 5, 2014.
Since the commencement of the Shed in 2007 many community projects have been carried out by the members.
These include the restoration of furniture in the old nursing quarters at the hospital for use now by the visiting medical professionals, the manufacture of squirrel glider nesting boxes, the manufacture of various items for Special Needs, the Visitors Centre, the Neighbourhood Centre, the local Child Care Centre, the Historical Society, the Christian book shop, the Uniting Church and many others.
One exciting project carried out some years ago was the construction of the “TARDIS” which was a replica of the telephone cabinet as seen in the television show “Dr Who” complete with the telephone and siren.
It was made for a family in Canberra who have it displayed in their front yard.
There have also been many repairs carried by the members for the residents of the Shire.
In 2014, one of our members, Peter Wheeler, made a wonderful rocking horse which was the first prize for the Christmas raffle for that year.
The same member made the scrolls for the Cowra Shire, which are given to each of the guest nations at the Festival of International Understanding.
Another major project was the construction of 15 special boxes for Blaize Aid to house their special equipment used in their restoration of fencing etc after fires or floods.
There were a total of 60 of these boxes made by the various Men’s Sheds in this surrounding area.
The current major project being carried out is the restoration of an old steam machine for the Lachlan Valley Railway Association to be put on display at their entrance.
Their members are also assisting with the completion of this project.
The shed now has 65 financial members and one of the features of the Men’s Shed movement is to concentrate on the mental health issues of its members especially those who have involved on Korea and Vietnam.
Over the past few years the shed has taken part in a program called “Spanner in the Works”. This is where the members and any male from the district can come to the shed and have the district nurse check their medical condition and recommend any suitable solutions to their problems they may have.
The Cowra Men’s Shed is also associated with the Bring Healthy Back Challenge by offering a six week program of men’s fitness classes, with a focus on flexibility and strength training.
The age of the members ranges from those in their late 60s to those in their 90s. It was unfortunate to have the first treasurer, Les Cox, pass away many years ago and also Ernie Mendey, the oldest member, passed away at the age of 93.
A lot has been achieved during the past 10 years and it is hoped that the membership will continue to increase and that the fellowship of the men attending and sharing their skills with others will also be appreciated.
An open day will be held at the Cowra Men’s Shed on Saturday, May 13 at 12.30pm and an invitation is extended to the residents of Cowra to help us celebrate the 10 years of operation. Light refreshments will be available and an inspection of the facilities will take place after the formalities.
The Cowra Men’s Shed would like to thank the various local businesses that have provided ongoing support for the past 10 years.
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