(Back row, from left) Graeme O’Connor, Eddie Siladi, John Pigott, Ken Lloyd and Peter Murphy; (front) Bernie Ayre, James Christian, Vic Hartney and Tim Salisbury.
(Back row, from left) Graeme O’Connor, Eddie Siladi, John Pigott, Ken Lloyd and Peter Murphy; (front) Bernie Ayre, James Christian, Vic Hartney and Tim Salisbury.

Boys meet mentors

WHEN Michelle Stockton saw the happy results of the ‘Stitched Up’ program, linking young women with older ones to learn sewing and life skills, she was determined to do something similar for teenage boys.

“I work at the Bellingen Primary School and see all those fresh-faced kindergarten children but by the time they are teenagers they have a ‘lost look’,” Mrs Stockton said.

“I wanted to do something about that.”

Months of knocking on doors trying to find a suitable place where young men could learn skills and find support followed.

Just down the road in South St, the owner of a fantastic shed, Bernie Ayre, was struggling with high blood pressure and being told by his doctor he should get out more and do things in his shed.

Mr Ayre heard about Mrs Stockton and her shed search at the Neighbourhood Centre and decided he’d give her a call.

“The connection between myself and Bernie and his wife, Ann, was immediate,” Mrs Stockton said.

“And we decided to start working towards establishing a Men’s Shed in Bellingen.”

Development approval came through in February and since then 12 blokes have been working hard to tick all the compliance boxes ready for the shed’s opening this Sunday.

“Those 12 men didn’t know each other when this started and now they are great mates.

“Even better, Bernie’s blood pressure has come right down and he is now off his medication.”

Mrs Stockton said under the terms of the DA approval the group now had seven months to prove the shed was a worthwhile resource for the community.

The planned operation hours are Mondays, 4pm-7.30pm; Tuesdays, 10am-3pm; and Wednesdays, 4pm-7.30pm.

For more information, contact Eddie on 6655 0805, Bernie 6655 0192 or email bellingenmensshed@ gmail.com.



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