Men’s shed stalwart says goodbye
UNDER the trees in front of the Anglican Church in the centre of town, the Bright United Men’s Shed held their annual book sale last Friday and Saturday.
Now in its ninth year, the sale has been an ongoing success for the organisation.
The book sale was the brainchild of member Graeme Morris, who came up with the idea as a way of paying back a $20,000 loan the Shed needed when it was first built.
At the time, the organisation had received a hefty grant to build a shed, but in the two years it took to find land to build on, steel prices doubled, and while the original money paid for the shed, another $20,000 was required to fit it out.
Now, after years in charge of the book sale, Graeme Morris is stepping back, as he and his wife Kathleen move on from Bright to Benalla after 21 years of community service and involvement.
Graeme first came to Bright in 1997 as a policeman.
Sitting inside the Anglican Church as the book sale was packed up on Saturday afternoon, he told the Alpine Observer he always had an eye to move out this way, and at a certain age, he started to want a “quieter environment.”
“Coming over here was like going from bedlam into paradise,” he said.
Not one to isolate himself,sGraeme walked the streets as a police officer, including the parks late at night, and together with youth officer Allan J Findlay got to know teenagers and young people, bridging the generational and authority gap and creating a sense of unity within the town.
He said there was a period of two years where there were simply no issues with teenagers or young people at all.
Over the years, Graeme has been involved with the Historical Society, has served as the secretary of the Bright RSL, and up until a medical issue prevented him only 12 months ago, played the tuba in the Wodonga Brass Band.
After retiring from the police force, Graeme became part of the Men’s Shed, and has seen the group grow and develop.
“The Shed has been very, very rewarding,” he said.
“There are a lot of intangibles that you don’t realise until you’ve been a member. It is a sort of male bonding and friendship,”
“If you can see people who come to the shed now…we’ve even got a few widowers, and you can see them coming out of their shells after six months. You can see a huge difference.”
Aside from providing a space for men to meet, the Shed has collective projects. It gives members a community and a purpose, and even has various health initiatives.
Eight years ago the Shed arranged prostate checks for members. Graeme admitted he had zero willingness to drop his pants and allow a doctor to do ‘that’, but luckily, he was convinced.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the prompt treatment he received saved his life.
With Graeme’s departure, member Frank Tomaino is now in charge of the book sale, which, despite scorching heat on Friday and sporadic showers on Saturday, raised nearly $3000.
Out the front of the church we stopped to take a photo of Graeme with some of his mates from the Shed.
“I’ve got good friends here. I’ll miss it,” he said.
“For anyone I haven’t caught up with, if this article gets in the paper, consider this a goodbye.”