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Three of the horses refurbished (Barry, Stella and Gordon). Image: contributed.

Men’s and Women’s Shed refurbishes wooden horses

Pat Fordham

The Townsend Men’s and Women’s Sheds have been hard at work refurbishing burnt merry-go round horses for the Yamba Lions Club.
In late 2019, a fire tore through the Yamba Lions Club storage shed, damaging a variety of goods and memorabilia. Ten wooden merry-go round horses were among the damaged items, with the feet and ears of the horses becoming charred in the blaze.
The horses were used for local school fetes and events around the area and the loss of the horses was detrimental to future Lions events. Peter Hudson, the secretary of the Yamba Lions believed they needed help to refurbish the horses and called on their friends at the local Townsend Men’s Shed.
“All the horses were taken out to the men’s shed and they repaired them all and then they were given to the women’s shed who repainted them. And one of the engineering companies in Yamba repaired a lot of the metal work associated with the merry-go round and the Manning River Lions donated us this train carriage which they didn’t have any use for any longer and we gave that to the men’s shed and they replicated it for us, so now we have the merry-go round ready to go and two new little train carriages,” the secretary says.
The process of refurbishing the horses was a difficult task, with the men’s shed taking over three months to get the horses back to a level where they could be decorated to their former glory.
“There’s about 1000 hours of work that’s gone into it,” assistant leader of the Men’s Shed, Brent Walsh says.
“15-20 guys were working 4-5 hours a day for months, just sanding and working”.
Once the men were done, this allowed the women to begin their work on decorating the horses, ready for use at local fetes. Pam Fleming and Pat Riordan began hustling in order to create design’s and decorations for the now re-done horses. They noted that the project wasn’t just about helping the Lions get back on their feet but would also give them a sense of pride and joy during and after the refurbishment process.
“It means so much to us because as I said, we’re both retired from the arts field and it just gave us a chance to create something that is unique. My feelings are that each one of my horses I have put my heart and soul into them, and they are like little live characters,” Ms Fleming says.
The women worked on the horses tirelessly for months through the state COVID lockdown beginning in March 2020 and said the work has taken them countless hours, but it is all worth it.
“I do love working on them. I get into a bit of a flow; a bit of a groove and I just go and go and go and miss out on lunch or dinner sometimes and next thing I know it’s 7 o’clock at night,” the Women’s Shed volunteer notes.
The horses are due to be handed back to the Lions Club in coming months, with fetes and fairs due to start back up pending COVID restrictions.

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