We have several, what I would call, 'Shed' sheds. A place where traditional woodworking and other craft based activities can take place. (Shanklin, Newport, Ventnor) Newport and Shanklin also have gardening on their remit as well.
But what if you are not a 'woody' person? How about large scale engineering? The men's sheds (Sandown engineering Shed) are fortunate enough to work within one of the last DC power stations on the island, restoring the fine Ruston engines (and the largest single piston engine on the island), along with a Lister and a variety of other small engines, compressors etc. This work is being hailed as vital in protecting the Sandown / Yaverland bay from potential development. Being the only listed building in this area, the Pavilion on Browns Golf Course stands a lone, a solitary figure of defiance in the way of losing this wonderful area for good. Having the machinery being restored ready for public visitation, along with the site being used as a committed community space has given more credence when the developers start getting their sights on the space. Each week eight men work as a team to bring these engines back to life.
As well as the more 'practical' sheds, we also have not one, but TWO sheds for the budding and ageing musicians among us. For me, personally, the ongoing success of the music sheds has shown that men's sheds are not just about sawdust and WD40. They can also be a place of creativity of a different kind. The men of the music sheds come from all different musical backgrounds. Some are beginners, some have been playing since they were teenagers but lost the opportunities to play in a group. Whatever the reasons, the coming together to play and sing has been an almost life changing moment for many in their older years. We have had men who since retiring to the island have not managed to find a place where they have fitted in socially. We have had men who once played in a band and miss that coming together of musical minds. We have had men who haven't picked their guitar up for 30 and 40 years, who are now performing at open mic and folk night events all across the island. When I visit the music sheds (with my blue ukulele), there have been some defining moments for me, where the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I can see a group of men who, before the shed, had never met and are creating something wonderful.
Some of the locations of our sheds are somewhat unusual, not least of all the Aviation shed, located within a museum that is located within a hanger at an airport. I met a gentleman there who has recently joined the Aviation Shed, who has multiple health problems. yet he is there each week, with a fantastic smile on his face, carrying out tasks that provide him once again with a real sense of purpose, that his contribution is making a difference not just to him, but to others as well. that is the real ethos behind the sheds. And that makes me very proud of each and every one of them.