Halesworth Men’s Shed welcomes women to the workshop for beginners woodwork course

Manon Clarke and Erica Wilkin with their bird boxes made at the Halesworth Men's Shed courses.
PHOT

Manon Clarke and Erica Wilkin with their bird boxes made at the Halesworth Men's Shed courses. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The Halesworth Men's Shed group might sound like a place just for men and their toolboxes, but for the past four weeks the workshop has been occupied by a group of women keen to learn some basic woodwork skills.

Halesworth Men's Shed group has been holding woodwork courses for women. Some of the members at the

Halesworth Men's Shed group has been holding woodwork courses for women. Some of the members at the end of the course with volunteers from the Men's Shed. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The courses have been run by committee member Nick Cooklin, who has 50 years experience in woodwork, helped by other members.

Mr Cooklin, 73, was approached last year to set up a DIY course for women in the area, and having previously devised and run his own training sessions in his job as an insurance salesman, he set about planning a course to teach the basic skills.

The sessions include learning about the types of wood, the joints that can be made, measuring and marking out wood and how to use a saw, hammer, chisel and other tools.

And since launching the first workshop last year, two more groups of women have been through the doors, with nine attending the most recent course ending last week.

Erica Wilkin and Manon Clarke working on their bird boxes. Picture: Nick Butcher

Erica Wilkin and Manon Clarke working on their bird boxes. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher


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Mr Cooklin said: 'We've had some really good feedback and the only negative comment has been that the courses weren't long enough.

'I have loved doing it and we are planning to do more courses in the future.

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'And as well as learning new skills, the course is helping to create a network of friends, because a lot of the women didn't know each other at the start but are friends now.'

At the end of the four weeks each participant walked away with their own bird box, made from scratch during the sessions.

Liz Clark working with Halesworth Men's Shed member Alan Richardson. Picture: Nick Butcher

Liz Clark working with Halesworth Men's Shed member Alan Richardson. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The Men's Shed supplies all of the tools and materials, and the £40 paid per person goes towards the upkeep of their base behind Chinny's car park.

Mr Cooklin said the next session will either be another beginners course or a more advanced course for women that have attended previously.

The Halesworth Men's Shed group is open normally on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm and Saturdays from 10am to noon.

Anyone who would like to find out more about taking part in a course can email halesworthmensshed@gmail.com or call 01986 835905.

What they said

The woodwork courses have attracted women aged from their 40s up to 75.

Liz Clark, 64 from Beccles, signed up after seeing an advert at The Cut arts centre in Halesworth.

She said: 'I just wanted to get some basic woodwork skills. I wanted to be able to do more for myself because I've got the tools but never use them.

'It's good to be trained to do it the right way rather than the long-winded way.

'I feel a real sense of achievement. Everyone has been so helpful and we've had lots of cake.'

Charlotte Pither, 41 from Reydon, said: 'I wanted to improve my confidence using tools. We have learned how to use a saw, a drill and a chisel.

'It has been a good lesson in following instructions. I had to redo several bits on my bird box but it looks okay now.

'It has been good fun and everyone has been friendly.'

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