27 November 2009

Shed History

A History of The Entrance Men's Shed

speech presented by President Kevin Armstrong at the Official Opening of The Entrance Mens Shed

The idea of a Men’s Shed at The Entrance was probably first formally expressed at a public meeting called by WSC at the primary school across the road. Boyd McMillan chaired that meeting, the aim of which was to gain community ideas for a possible Community Centre on the site of the former Infants School – where we are today.

Several other influences pre-dated that meeting –

Apex Geoff Dunn, Allan Kember, the late Lynn Sawyer and myself had been members of the Apex Club of The Entrance for many years. During one of our ‘working bees’, we had in fact built Koppers log playground equipment in this playground. Mateship and concern for our community underpinned that Committee and continues to this day.

Community At one stage, the State government planned to sell this site for medium density housing. This caused strong community outrage, led by WATCH (Wyong Action to Curb Highrise) and the Community Environment Network - CEN. Members of WATCH here today include Tom and Elizabeth Lyons, Helene and Keith Ford and Jim Price – we are grateful that their actions some years ago helped keep this site available for community purposes.

The Community Centre we enjoy today is s tribute to the community activism of WATCH and CEN – the former opposing high rise in The Entrance, the latter wishing to preserve the rainforest area on the lower section of this site.

The outcome from many protests, letters and negotiations over several years was that Wyong Shire Council negotiated acquisition of the top 1/3 of this site as a Community Centre, the State government retained the middle 1/3 to be sold for 3 storey housing and the bottom 1/3 of this site remains as rainforest and part of the Steeping Stones wildlife corridor connecting South Wyrrabalong National Park (Forresters Beach) to North Wyrrabalong National Park at North Entrance.

All those mentioned … Apex, WATCH, CEN and WSC can be justly proud of what has been created on this site. A special thanks to former councillor Robyn Stewart.

Steering Committee

In February 2007, a Steering Committee was formed – former Apexians Geoff Dunn, Allan Kember, the late Lynn Sawyer and myself were joined by Colin Kennedy and John Sharples, also by Bruce Evans and David Casey .. then, somewhat later, by Kim Hopkins, our current Shed Co-Ordinator.

We researched existing sheds .. online and by site visits, gathering knowledge of what worked and what didn’t. We talked with Ruth van Herk from Uniting Care Ageing – sponsors at that stage of about 15 sheds.

We worked out likely tasks – woodworking, metalwork – and what equipment we might buy – prioritised into 3 lists, depending on availability of money … we prepared an operational budget and we drew plans and layouts … all in anticipation.

Key milestones

  • Incorporation 22 June 2007
  • opened bank account ANZ
  • Volunteer Small Equipment Grant 23 August 2007
  • CDSE grant – diggers@theentrance
  • WSC community improvement grant
  • In November 2007, 4 of us attended the 2nd Australian Men’s Shed conference at Manly.
  • AAS grant $ 99,270 over 3 years 29 August 08
  • moved into Shed 14 May 09

Council engaged architects to develop plans for Stage 2 of the Community Centre. We negotiated around the size of the proposed building and various additions … soundproofing so we didn’t become noisy nuisances to proposed adjoining housing, a toilet (older blokes don’t run very fast), an awning, a barbecue and a mezzanine floor. Council were good sports … and we won most of what we wanted – except the mezzanine floor.


Today we have a Men’s Shed … often thought of as the building, or the equipment or what is made or repaired …. but that’s really the 1/3 of the iceberg that shows …

a Men’s Shed is really about the hidden 2/3 of the iceberg … the MEN … blokes doing things together … whether that’s making or repairing something for themselves … or the community

a Men’s Shed is about mates .. sharing a cuppa …

or maybe a joke

… blokes doing blokes stuff if u like to put it that way …

Men’s Sheds have positive health benefits for individuals … alleviating loneliness and isolation and reducing depression …

Men’s Sheds also have social benefits … enhancing self esteem and creating cohesive communities.

In closing, I again thank members of the Steering Committee for their interest, support and commitment over what was an extended period whilst the Shed was being built.

It is also appropriate that I ask thank Mayor Graham to thank Wyong Shire Council for its strong support of The Entrance Men’s Shed .. both in constructing this purpose-built facility and allowing its use on very generous terms. We look forward to that support continuing into the future ….

Kevin Armstrong

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