An enjoyable pastime upon leaving the military has lead to a highly rewarding charity project for Greytown's Anthony Waygood.

Most days, Mr Waygood, a woodworker and turner of more than 20 years, can be found in his shed, creating masterpieces such as coffee tables, embossed bowls and vases imprinted with Celtic designs.

However, his most prolific project is the humble wigstand -- which can be found on the bedside tables of scores of Wairarapa people battling cancer.

Mr Waygood is one of the co-ordinators for the Cancer Society's wigstand initiative, which provides the simple woodturned stands to women undergoing treatment.

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Together, Mr Waygood and members of the Wairarapa Woodworkers Guild and the Greytown Men's Shed have made close to 100 wigstands for Wairarapa patients in the last year.

And, with the Wellington, Kapiti and Wairarapa woodwork guilds asked to produce 400 stands for the society each year, Mr Waygood has his work cut out for him.

"It makes you realise enormity of the cancer problem in New Zealand," he said.

"But it's so heartwarming, because the patients are so appreciative. They are blown away that a group of people they have never met would give their time and their skills to make something just for them."

Mr Waygood took up woodwork after retiring from the New Zealand Army, as he felt he needed a hobby.

He bought a second-hand lathe and enrolled at the New Zealand Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson.

"The first course was cabinet making -- they had us doing the basic stuff, and watched us like hawks.

"They took high precautions back then."

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He has since tried his hand at chair-making, embossing, ornamental patterning, intarsia and ukulele making. He decided to try wigstands after seeing them made at the Wairarapa guild -- and, before long, was making two to three a week.

He began taking woodturning classes at Greytown Men's Shed, whose members began churning out stands from wood donated by Malvina Major rest home.

"They've enjoyed learning a new skill, especially doing their own designs for the stems. We hardly ever get them back from patients -- some have passed them on as family heirlooms."

Mr Waygood also volunteers as a biographer for the Cancer Society, recording and writing the life stories of terminally ill patients.

As a biographer, he has met people from all walks of life -- from farmers, teachers and keen sportspeople to devoted grandparents.

"Cancer doesn't discriminate based on status or profession," he said.

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"It is hard, as you do get emotionally involved and become attached to the person."

Despite this, Mr Waygood enjoys hearing patients' tales, and them become engrossed in their life history.

"I was in the middle of interviewing one guy, and the fire alarm in Greytown went off," he said.

"I asked him afterwards if the fire alarm had bothered him, and he said 'what fire alarm?' -- he was so absorbed his story.

"These people realise they are nearing the end of their life, and they have something to say.

"This is their opportunity."

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