Whanganui's Men's Shed recently celebrated its seventh birthday with an all-out, knees-up celebration.

"We had cake," co-manager John McGowan says. "We contracted the Yellow House to do catering and they did a marvellous job."

The Men's Shed opened its doors and started accumulating tools, members and interest from May 5, 2012, at 292 Wicksteed St, in premises which comprised part of the former UCOL, now Tupoho Community Complex, and the shed is stronger than ever. Membership consists of men and women from all walks of life, mostly retired, but not necessarily so.

Directly opposite is the Central Baptist Church Play Centre, an apt juxtaposition.


Last week John Wicks, Men's Shed President, put on a morning tea to celebrate the birthday and honour the founding committee for their insight and decision to begin Whanganui's own Shed.

"Our men and women members range in age from 60ish to over 90," says John McGowan, "and our skills, talents and collective wisdom comes from this great adventure called life. We do have some limits but generally speaking we are a happy lot in reasonable health, and maintain a good sense of humour. Morning tea discussions usually involve last night's TV offering, something odd that's happened, or advising the government and Donald Trump on what to do next. It's surprising really how a cuppa and a gingernut can help in all discussions."

Over the past seven years the Men's Shed has become part of the Whanganui community, sponsoring projects, building Christmas Parade floats and showing how experience and access to tools makes a big difference.

Shed members also take on outside work, with proceeds reinvested in the workshop. One of their first commissioned jobs was a lectern made from 2000-year-old swamp matai from Owhango, near Taumarunui, used for the first time at the 2013 Masters Games in Whanganui. It was commissioned by Wanganui Events Trust. Last week the shed was working on a couple of display cases for Bushy Park.

Much of the gear used in the Men's Shed has been bequeathed by retired tradesmen who wanted to see the equipment go to a good home and continue to be used. Judging by the constant activity, good nature and work ethic of the members, and the number of ongoing projects to complete, the Men's Shed will be around for a long time.