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Aberchirder And District Men's Shed reflect on time as Scottish Shed Of The Year

By Kirsty Brown

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A year at the top came to an end for Aberchirder And District Men's Shed last week when they passed the Shed Of The Year title onto the 2020 winners.

The Aberchirder group won the inaugural Scottish Men's Shed Of The Year 2019 title, and although it may have not been the 12 months which they had planned the accolade has nonetheless had a lasting impact on members.

Explaining the effect that being Shed Of The Year had on Aberchirder, chairman Mike O'Brien said: "Winning the award, the first award, of Scottish Men’s Shed of the Year meant a lot to us.

"Being voted the best Shed by the rest by our peer group, the Scottish Sheds, was one amazing achievement for Aberchirder and District Men’s Shed because we had only officially opened in 2019.

"The members recognise that without the amazing support we have had from our community and our involvement with them in community projects that our efforts to bring another aspect to village life would not have been quite as successful.

"I really think that the village was as proud as we were when this award came to Foggie.

"We have tried to extend the warmest of welcomes to everyone with a space to pop in and have tea or coffee, a biscuit and blether, and since winning the award that welcome has been extended to many other Shed’s from across Scotland and on one occasion to tourists just passing through looking for a coffee shop.

"However, all our endeavours to promote a friendly, welcoming space to counter feelings of loneliness and isolation within the community came to a full stop with the onset of the Covid 19 regime and, like many others, we were forced to close up shop.

"During the lockdown we continued to serve our community by delivering food from the Co-op shop to the more vulnerable and shielding groups in the area and by just having a wee blether with them at the doorstep making them feel that they had not been forgotten.

"Obviously we were not able to open to the community but we are looking forward to better times and we are confident that in the not too distant future we will take up where we left off.

"The signs that we are missed are all there, from the number of people who stop at the gate and purchase vegetables from the honesty table and the residents who continually ask when we are reopening.

"The closure of the Shed goes against our very aims, which is to bring people together with a view to alleviating the feelings of isolation and loneliness within our community so we will continue to do what we can, when we can, within the Covid rules, including to continuing the shopping delivery service if required to achieve our aims as far as possible.

"Our next project is to finish the welding shed which is just about ready for the installation of the welding and fabricating tools and then we will start planning for a Santa’s Grotto, Covid permitting!"

Scottish Men's Shed Association's Jason Schroeder (centre) collects the trophy and stand from Aberchirder And District Men's Shed's chairman Mike O'Brien (left) and secretary Jim Paterson (right). Picture: Eric Cormack.
Scottish Men's Shed Association's Jason Schroeder (centre) collects the trophy and stand from Aberchirder And District Men's Shed's chairman Mike O'Brien (left) and secretary Jim Paterson (right). Picture: Eric Cormack.

The shed to receive the accolade for 2020 is The Inverclyde Shed.

Due to current covid restrictions it was very difficult for Aberchirder to deliver the award and share the celebration they would have hoped for, so as an alternative the head of Scottish Men's Shed Association Jason Schroeder offered to bridge the gap.

Last week he travelled to Aberchirder to meet with a small number of shed members and collect both the targe trophy and the base which was built specially in the Aberchirder Shed by member James Paterson for displaying the trophy.

He also presented them with a miniature version of the trophy created by David Young Training to have in the Shed as a keepsake of their success.

Chairman of The Inverclyde Shed, Bruce Newlands, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this prestigious award and title.

“It was encouraging to hear Aberchirder and District Men’s Shed share what they have gained from winning the SMSA award last year and we hope to be just as successful. "

"This award showcases the great work being carried out by Sheds across Scotland so we can share knowledge and ideas to improve the health and wellbeing of the men in our communities.”

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