Henley Men’s Shed member Douglas Hornigold with Allan Kirk, and men’s shed co-ordinator John Bush. PHOTOS/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Hayley Gastmeier

The oldest member is 94 and the youngest is 18.

But while the age range is vast, all men who walk through the Henley Men’s Shed’s doors receive the same thing – comradery and support.

That’s according to shed co-ordinator and founding member John Bush, who says the benefits are three-fold.

“There’s research being done around men’s sheds in New Zealand.

“The first benefit is to the men. The shed takes them away from boredom, isolations, depression – it’s good for mental health.

“While they’re here they’re building friendships, they’re engaging in projects.

“Then the family benefits because they know that dad or grandad has some [focus] in life.

“The third thing is the community benefits. The men’s shed does all this stuff for the community.

“People, organisations and groups couldn’t afford to do a lot the things that the members at the men’s shed can do.”

Everyone values the work of Henley Men’s Shed, and their latest project is sure to also fetch appreciation by man’s best friend.

18-month-old Brittany Spaniel Reggie checks out a dog stick

Shed members have made two ‘dog stick libraries’ for dogs to enjoy at dog walking-friendly sites.

Masterton-based author Allan Kirk brought the idea to the Henley Men’s Shed after seeing a story about a Canterbury man creating a stick library for the Kaiapoi community.

“We’ve got specially designed sticks with no sharp bits, so they don’t get hurt,” he said.

One of the libraries will go around Henley Lake and the other will go to another dog walking site. Exact locations are yet to be confirmed.

“People can use the sticks, once they’ve finished, they put it back in the library for the next user,” Allan said.

“We consulted with vets to make sure there was no chance of passing on nasty bugs by multiple uses of sticks.”

He said the men’s shed was a huge community asset, which made many projects possible.

When asked why he wasn’t a member, he replied, “The only thing I could build would be a disaster. I’m a man of words, not a handyman.”

But Douglas Hornigold is a handyman.

A member of the shed for almost seven years, Douglas did much of the handy work making the stick libraries.

He was kept company by his sidekick, an 18-month-old Brittany Spaniel named Reggie.

John said many men brought their dogs along to the shed and he hoped the stick libraries would bring “a lot of pleasure” to local canines.

“A project like this is what the men’s shed is all about – in the community for the community.

“Every day we are taking on a new community project of some sort and that’s what keeps a lot of the blokes coming back – to get in and do things for their community.”

Henley’s Men’s Shed has 157 members, and John said, “the more the merrier”.

Any man aged 16 and up can join the shed, which is open Monday to Friday.

John said it was good to have younger members because they could be mentored by the older generations, who also benefited knowing they were passing on their life-learned skills.

“Once a man retires, many sit around at home asking, ‘what am I supposed to do?’ John said.

“The men’s shed’s always here. You wake up in the morning and you think ‘what am I going to do?’

“And if you don’t get a better offer, you come down to the men’s shed.”