The history of The Entrance Men’s Shed

The following is an edited text of a speech delivered by The President of The Entrance Men’s Shed at the Official Opening of The Shed on the 27th of November, 2009.

The idea of a Men’s Shed at The Entrance was probably first floated at a public meeting called by Wyong Shire Council at the primary school across the road. Boyd McMillan chaired that meeting, the aim of which was to gather community ideas for a possible Community Centre on the site of the former Infants School–where we stand today.

Several other influences pre-dated that meeting, firstly Apex. Geoff Dunn, Allan Kember, the late Lynn Sawyer and myself had been members of the Apex Club of The Entrance for many years. During one of our “working bees”, we built Koppers log playground equipment in this playground. Mateship and concern for our community underpinned that Committee and continues to this day.

At one stage, the NSW State Government planned to sell this site for medium density housing. This caused strong community outrage, led by WATCH (Wyong Action to Curb High-rise) and the Community Environment Network – CEN. Members of WATCH here today include Tom and Elizabeth Lyons, Helene and Keith Ford and Jim Price–we are grateful that their actions some years ago helped keep this site available for community purposes.

The Entrance Community Centre we enjoy today is a tribute to the community activism of WATCH and CEN–the former opposing high rise in The Entrance, the latter wishing to preserve the rainforest area on the lower section of this site.

The outcome from many protests, letters and negotiations over several years was that Wyong Shire Council negotiated acquisition of the top third of this site as a Community Centre, the State government retained the middle third to be sold for three story housing and the bottom third of this site remains as rainforest and part of the Stepping Stones wildlife corridor connecting South Wyrrabalong National Park (Forresters Beach) to North Wyrrabalong National Park at North Entrance.

All those mentioned: Apex, WATCH, CEN and Wyong Shire Council can be justly proud of what has been created on this site. A special thanks to former Councillor Robyn Stewart.

In February 2007, a Steering Committee was formed–former Apexians Geoff Dunn, Allan Kember, the late Lynn Sawyer and myself were joined by Colin Kennedy and John Sharples, also by Bruce Evans and David Casey, then, somewhat later, by Kim Hopkins, our current Shed Coordinator.

We researched existing sheds, online and by site visits, gathering knowledge of what worked and what didn’t. We talked with Ruth van Herk from Uniting Care Ageing–sponsors at that stage of about fifteen sheds.

We worked out likely tasks–woodworking, metalwork–and what equipment we might buy, prioritized into three lists, depending on availability of money. We prepared an operational budget and we drew plans and layouts, all in anticipation.

Council engaged architects to develop plans for Stage Two of the Community Centre. We negotiated around the size of the proposed building and various additions–soundproofing so we didn’t become noisy nuisances to proposed adjoining housing, a toilet (older blokes don’t run very fast), an awning, a barbecue and a mezzanine floor. Council were good sports, and we won most of what we wanted–except the mezzanine floor.

A Men’s Shed is really about the hidden two-thirds of the iceberg, the men, blokes doing things together, whether that’s making or repairing something for themselves or the community.

A Men’s Shed is about mates sharing a cuppa or maybe a joke– blokes doing blokes stuff, if you like to put it that way. Men’s Sheds have positive health benefits for individuals, alleviating loneliness and isolation and reducing depression. Men’s Sheds also have social benefits: enhancing self esteem and creating cohesive communities.

In closing, I again thank members of the Steering Committee for their interest, support and commitment over what was an extended period whilst the Shed was being built.

It is also appropriate that I ask Mayor Graham to thank Wyong Shire Council for its strong support of The Entrance Men’s Shed, both in constructing this purpose-built facility and allowing its use on very generous terms. We look forward to that support continuing into the future.

Milestones in the history of The Entrance Men’s Shed

Incorporation (June 2007)
Opened bank account (July 2007)
Volunteer small equipment grant (August 2007)
CDSE grant (Diggers)
WSC community improvement grant (November 2007)
AAS grant (August 2008)
Shed operations start (May 2009)

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