Aberchirder and District Men’s Shedhas scooped the award and title of the first ‘Scottish Men’s Shed of the Year’ and a £500 cash prize at the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association (SMSA) Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 11th September 2019.
The event celebrated the work carried out by Aberchirder & District Men’s Shed which began in 2016 with a team of seven men (‘The Magnificent Seven’) at the helm – fundraising and raising awareness of the Sheds Movement through popular coffee mornings and applying to local and national funders to secure a Shed. Aberdeenshire Council granted the use of the land which the Shed now stands on and in 2017, the founding Chairman cut the first sod with a donated JCB digger. By Autumn 2017, five cabins had been installed with toilets, a kitchen, a computing space and a social area followed by raised beds around the perimeter of the car park.
The team worked over 30,000 man-hours over the 104-week construction process, all the while, still engaging with its 72 members through monthly meetings and fundraising events and activities. In May 2019, the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Clare Russell officially opened the Shed and revealed a wall plaque to commemorate the event with over 350 members of the local community in attendance. A letter from Buckingham Palace, an invitation to the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace and a meeting with Prince Edward were also amongst the celebrations to recognise the excellent work being carried out by the Shed.
During the period of the Aberchirder and District Men’s Shed, the Shedders have worked with local schools, charities, businesses and residents to provide planters, fencing, garden seats, hanging baskets, firewood and chicken coups in addition to being the envy of the community with its homegrown fruit and veg.
Mike O’Brien, Chairman of the Aberchirder & District Men’s Shed, said: “We are so proud to win this prestigious trophy in its inaugural year. We look forward to proudly displaying the Targe at the Shed and wish to formally thank the Shed’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ for all the work they have done and, in particular, the founding Chairman Kenny Christie, whose shoes I will have a challenge to fill. Now that we are at the end of a very busy two years, we intend to do what Men’s Sheds are all about and enjoy the company and craik.”
The awards presentation – to showcase the commitment, impact and outstanding work being carried out by Men’s Sheds in Scotland – recognised 15 entries and also saw Aultbea Men’s Shed and Cromarty Firth Men’s Shed tie for the runner-up places and each receive a £250 cash prize and gift vouchers from Axminster Tools.
Carse of Gowrie Men’s Shed in Dundee played host to the SMSA event and the engraved Scottish Targe presented to the winning Shed was produced thanks to the help, generosity and skills of several Men’s Shed members to truly encapsulate the ethos of Men’s Sheds. SMSA Chairman, Derek Keiller, designed the trophy from mahogany supplied by the Carse of Gowrie Men’s Shed from a 100-year-old billiards table followed by French polishing by Hamish Shepherd of Strathmore Men’s Shed in Coupar Angus.
Jason Schroeder, Executive Officer at the SMSA and co-founder of the first Men’s Shed in Scotland in Aberdeenshire back in 2013, said: “Today’s event celebrates the success and growth of the Men’s Sheds Movement in Scotland. By showcasing the award nominees and their life-changing impact it is hoped that more men will access Men’s Sheds to connect with their communities, to improve their health and wellbeing, and that new Men’s Sheds will continue to be developed across Scotland.”