Hawick men hoping to shed their inhibition in former mill

A group set up a year ago to tackle social exclusion among older men in Hawick has proved so popular it now needs to find a new home.

Friday, 28th October 2016, 2:50 pm
Updated Monday, 31st October 2016, 9:52 am
Hawick Men's Shed.

Hawick Men’s Shed now has a membership of 28 and has outgrown its current premises, a workshop in Commercial Road.

Scottish Borders Council recently offered alternative accommodation in the offices of the former Lyle and Scott mill, in Lothian Street.

That offer was conditional on the group attaining charitable status, a requirement it met last week.

The old Lyle and Scott building in Lothian Street, Hawick.

Another obstacle standing in the way of the planned move is that the new premises, latterly home to a social security office, require work to make them fit for purpose.

To that end, an application for funding has been submitted to the Aviva Community Fund, a body handing out grants of up to £25,000.

For that application to prove successful, it will need a big enough show of support from the public, so townsfolk are being invited to vote for it at community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/16-1329

Men’s shed groups, named after the traditional retreat, are proving increasingly popular nationwide, thanks to the efforts of the UK Men’s Sheds Association.

The old Lyle and Scott building in Lothian Street, Hawick.

The sheds are spaces to encourage men to get together and work on projects and, more importantly, talk about whatever’s on their minds.

They are open to all men wanting to enjoy a safe, friendly and inclusive environment in which they can work on meaningful projects at their own pace.

George Brown, 83, Hawick Men’s Shed treasurer and founder member, said: “It has just snowballed. I remember the first meeting we had when no one came along.

There was just me, Derick Tait and Watson McAteer, but the next week there was a dozen, and it’s just grown from there.

“I believe that we now have the biggest membership of any men’s shed in the Borders, bigger than Galashiels and Jedburgh.

“The members who come are mostly very active, and we’d like to attract a few more housebound people.

“There is one disabled guy who comes in with his carer on a Tuesday morning to make artistic objects, and we’d like more disabled members and those people who are socially excluded, because there’s nothing worse than sitting at home alone and lonely.

“I was a joiner in my working life, and when I retired, I swore I’d never do any woodworking again, but here I am now and it’s almost like a full-time job.

“What’s good is that we all help each other.

“I have to say we’re not exclusively for men, and we’d welcome any ladies who would want to come on board.”

Derick , secretary of Hawick Men’s Shed, said the group is going from strength to strength.

The men it attracts, mostly aged over 60, utilise their experience to carry out furniture repairs, work on computers or hone their woodwork skills.

Derick added: “This move is in the early stages, but we can move on now that we are a stand-alone charity.

“Previously we were a sub-group of Hawick Senior Citizens’ Association.

“Although the proposed new building is structurally sound, and wind and watertight, it has been unoccupied for several years, and work is required to make it sustainable in the long term.

“Initial works required include the replacement of old single-glazed metal casement windows, installation of an efficient heating system and the installation of a lift mechanism to provide disabled access on the first floor.”

The council has offered the former mill premises on an initial 10-year care-and-repair basis.

Potential new members are invited to pop along any weekday between 10.30am and 4pm.