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Westhill claims the Scottish Men's Shed of the Year title

By David Porter

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The public has voted and, out of five worthy finalists, Westhill & District Men’s Shed (WDMS) – the first-ever Men’s Shed in Scotland - has been crowned Scottish Men’s Shed of the Year 2021 after receiving 35 per cent of the total votes.

WDMS was announced as the winner by the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA), with 667 votes, at the Association’s AGM and Scottish Men’s Shed of the Year Awards 2021 virtual event which was held today (Thursday).

Stonehaven & District Men’s Shed came a close second with 450 votes and next up was Dunoon Men’s Shed with 305, followed closely by Aboyne & District Men’s Shed with 277 and Dumfries Men’s Shed with 216.

Chairman of Westhill & District Men’s Shed, David Thomson, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this prestigious title that recognises the achievements, over the last eight years, from our extremely active and committed Board of Trustees and members.

"We have grown significantly over the years and now welcome over 300 members through our doors—averaging nearly 100 member visits per week.”

The first of its kind in Scotland, WDMS has been used as a good practice model for many Scottish Sheds and has evolved and diversified to meet the needs of its growing membership since its inception in 2013.

The Shed offers impressive facilities to local men age 18 or over including a fully-equipped workshop and social, meeting and administration areas.

Activities include lawnmower refurbishment, a bridge group, music group, 3D printing, model railway making and their new clock/watch repair service to name but a few on top of their projects for their local community including making benches, pergolas, garden furniture, planters, and signs for walking trails to generate income towards the Shed’s running costs.

The Shed also holds a series of talks on a variety of subjects including men’s health and wellbeing and local history and presents to local groups and hosts visits to raise awareness of their Shed and the Scottish Men’s Sheds Movement as a whole.

They recently expanded, with an additional portable cabin, creating more much-needed space to accommodate its growing popularity.

In June of this year, WDMS also received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognising the invaluable work carried out in their community and with special recognition for its Covid-19 work to produce 2700 face visors for keyworkers.

Their future plans include repairing the leaky roof of their original Shed building but first and foremost, their focus lies with encouraging existing members to return to the Shed with confidence.

Jason Schroeder, SMSA executive officer, said: “We are delighted that the first-ever Men’s Shed in Scotland has claimed the Scottish Men’s Shed of the Year 2021 title.

"This year’s entries were of an incredibly high standard and were blind-judged by our Board of Trustees before letting the public decide on their winner.

“The pandemic and temporary Shed closures have certainly not put a stop to these men and they have demonstrated extreme resilience.

"The awards event not only showcases and recognises the immense achievements of individual Men’s Sheds and the impact they are having at a local level - to improve men’s health and wellbeing and make a real difference in their communities - but also celebrates the incredible growth of the Men’s Sheds Movement in Scotland over the last eight years to what we have today - over 190 Men’s Shed groups nationwide - and it continues to grow.”

The winning Shed will receive the esteemed targe trophy – created by several Men’s Shed members - engraved with the Shed name and displayed in a unique stand designed and produced by inaugural winner, Aberchirder & District Men’s Shed.

The trophy will be hand-delivered to WDMS by the SMSA chairman and staff team to mark International Men’s Day on Friday, November 19.

Each of the four runners up will also receive a replica of the trophy, created by David Young Training, to be displayed in their Shed’s to recognise them as 2021 finalists.

The winner and runners-up also receive a range of prizes from the SMSA and their partners and sponsors.

The winner, WDMS, receives over £2000 of prizes to support their Shed including a £500 cash prize from the SMSA (paid for through SMSA Shed Membership fees); a £125 voucher from Scotmid Co-operative; a £200 voucher for tools from Balfour Beatty; a free Machine Competency and Woodwork training day from David Young Training worth over £630; a year’s free Shed accounts package from Thyme Accountants worth £360 to support the Shed Treasurer; and goodies and hampers from their local Asda and Co-op stores.

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