Our bunk builders
Winston Garnett and Bernard Gardner were the two sheddies from rhe Men’s Shed North Shore who built the bunks for our project. They explain what keeps them coming to work in retirement.
Winston says that seeing a story on television about the Menzshed movement was probably a life-saver for him. He seems too cheerful for dark thoughts but then that’s what the shed can do for you.
He had just moved to New Zealand with his wife after retiring in South Africa (SA). They have children with young families both here and in SA but apart from them they knew virtually no one here. “You are used to getting up and going to work,” says Winston. “I’d wake up and think I should be going to work now. It’s a body shock. I was just about climbing the walls. If I hadn’t seen that thing on TV, I tell you, in another six weeks I’d have been chucking myself off that bridge,” he says.
Winston has the larger-than-life personality suited to his former job as a site manager. He’s probably joking about the bridge but says that the benefits of filling that sudden void in someone’s life are real enough. He’s now one of the trustees of this shed and a key player in much of the banter here three days a week. Chairman Larry Klassen chips in, saying that some people have joined the shed after being made redundant, or because they have realized the skills they developed over a lifetime career were no longer relevant. “You can tell [that] they have lost confidence but you get them going and next thing you know they are participating like everybody else,” he says. Bernard joined the shed after taking early retirement from a job in telecoms three years ago. “I didn’t want to do that any more, so I was looking for something new.” He admits to having a few handy skills, having rebuilt an Austin 7, fitted a three-litre V6 to a Ford Popular, built a Model T hot rod that featured headlights made from brass pot-plant holders, and built a granny flat in his garden.
He gets to exercise his skills and enjoy some good company. Bernard says that a sense of humour, either active or salvageable, is the lifeblood of shed life: “We are all the same here, so it pays not to take yourself too seriously.”