Age no bar­rier to Howard’s hob­bies

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By FLORENCE KERR

Age is no bar­rier, just ask Howard Down­ham.

Be­tween build­ing model boats, fix­ing his clas­sic 265 Charger, jam­ming on his Fender elec­tric gui­tar and walk­ing laps around the town, there is noth­ing hin­der­ing Mr Down­ham from do­ing any­thing he sets his eyes on at the age of 81.

‘‘You have to keep us­ing your brain and mov­ing your body, it’s true what they say if you don’t use ‘em, you lose ‘em,’’ he said.

Mr Down­ham can do pretty much any­thing that in­volves us­ing his hands.

A car­pen­ter by trade, Mr Down­ham can also strip down a car and build it back up, his 1973 Charger, which he has owned for close to 30 years still looks new, ex­cept for the en­gine bay. ‘‘ A pis­ton has punched right through, so I’ve taken the mo­tor out so I can fix it.’’

Build­ing model boats is also a pas­sion. He has recre­ated many his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant boats in­clud­ing the Mayflower, H.M.S Sur­prise and the H.M.S Bounty, just to name a few.

When asked if he had built a model ver­sion of the Ti­tanic, Mr Down­ham was ap­palled.

‘‘The best thing about that boat is that it sunk, it was just sad that it had to take hu­man life with it . . . I didn’t like the shape.’’

The at­ten­tion to de­tail

is amaz­ing, as Mr Down­ham put it: ‘‘I don’t do things in halves.’’

Orig­i­nally from Auck­land, Mr Down­ham has only lived in Toko­roa for six years.

‘‘ I moved to Ti­rau then to Pu­taruru and now here, I love it, the next time I move will be to Burt Hill in a wooden over­coat.’’

His other pas­sions in­clude movies and mu­sic from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. ‘‘ The mu­sic back then had mean­ing, you know it talked about is­sues, not like to­day’s mu­sic – it’s all yelling and mur­der­ing, I don’t un­der­stand how peo­ple could lis­ten to it.’’

Mr Down­ham’s phi­los­o­phy on life is: ‘‘you’re only as old as you feel, I don’t feel any­thing over 60.’’

SUR­PRISE: Howard Down­ham shows off his HMS Sur­prise, which took him 600 hours to recre­ate.

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