Kevin Carmody shares his passion for woodworking and the creative efforts of the Hastings Woodworkers Guild Inc. with Jo Atkins …
What’s the story behind the formation of the Hastings Woodworkers Guild Inc.?
The inaugural meeting of what was to become the Hastings Woodworkers Guild Inc. took place on 5 May 1994 at the Wauchope Woodturning Supplies, Rocks Ferry Road, Wauchope at the instigation of Charlie Charters. About 20 people decided to form a club.
The group decided to become incorporated, and a constitution was prepared. Each year a fee is paid to the Department of Fair Trading to maintain our incorporated status. It was proposed that the group be officially known as the ‘Hastings Woodworkers Guild Inc’.
The first general meeting was held at Kendall School on 22 June 1994. Sixteen members were present, and a committee was elected. A constitution was accepted and the club was well on its way, with plans for an annual exhibition, possible amalgamation with other similar clubs, and they were even searching for more suitable accommodation.
They had a bank balance of $169. Monthly meetings were held at night at the Wauchope High School, and the name ‘Hastings Woodworkers Guild Inc.’ was chosen.
The definition of ‘Guild’ is:
1. An organisation or club for people with shared interests.
2. (In medieval Europe) an association of men in the same trade or craft. (Old Norse gildi). While the definition refers to men, we have a small but dedicated number of ladies interested in woodcrafts, and they are very welcome and are a vital part of the membership.
The term ‘Club’ is more likely to be used when talking about our Guild and is quite acceptable.
In 1995 the group moved to the Wauchope Showgrounds, sharing a shed with the pony club /riding for the disabled.
The emphasis in those days was on woodturning, and a lathe was the first machine to be purchased (with a grant from the Hastings Council) followed by a band saw and grinder. A rudimentary library was set up, at first in plastic boxes, to keep the rats and cockroaches out.
Our first show was held in October 1996 at the Sea Scout Hall in Buller Street.
Members decided that they would take a risk regarding the cost of rent and associated costs, and the show went ahead. If the club made a loss, then this was part of the learning process.
Members were charged an entry fee of $2 per item and categories were set.
Outside judges were invited to judge the entries, and award certificates were issued for first, second and third in each category. At some stage, a best in the show was selected and a certificate given to the proud winner.
As the club grew and the show became very popular, we had to find a bigger venue. In 2005 Port Panthers, through the CDSE scheme, were very happy to oblige and have generously donated the auditorium to us each year since.
Various craft groups also attend the show. This annual show now brings in around 2,000 visitors each year.
In 2005 the Guild moved to Timbertown, to a basic shed of 108 square metres. We purchased the shed privately and leased the land that the shed is on through Hasting Council. With various grants and fundraising, we have been able to extend our shed to the size it is today, which is 450 square metres.
Various amounts of money were contributed by some of the members towards the building of this shed, and this has since been repaid by the club. This just shows how committed the members were to getting this club up and going.
What benefits does the club provide its members?
The Guild provides a place for members to meet, do woodwork, to seek assistance from other like minded members, to have social contact, have a cup of tea, share ideas via ‘show and tell’ or less formally at any time.
Currently we are open 7 days a week with a roster system. Wednesdays and Saturdays are our main working days, with up to 30 members present on these days. These are great opportunities for members to meet their fellow ‘woodies’ and exchange ideas and chat about life in general – topics can be very diverse.
Tell us about the club’s members …
Members come from all over the Hastings area. Although we are made up mainly of male members, we have 4 active female members. Wives of members get involved in different aspects of the club and are always welcome.
Our youngest member is female (19 years old) and our oldest is Len Dodds (88 years), former King of The Pines 2 years running. Lenny has been a great inspiration for all our members; his knowledge of various species of trees is invaluable.
Our members come from various walks of life – from businessmen, ex-servicemen, teachers, engineers, cabinet makers, cooks, ambulance officers – you name it, we’ve got it.
As you can see, it makes for very interesting discussions around the lunch table.
What skill levels does the club cater to?
We believe that members should not be concerned about their standard of woodworking skills, as someone is always on hand to assist with help and advice. Before long, you will be amazed at what a beginner can achieve.
Some of our members are very skilled wood turners and furniture makers and produce award-winning products. We are not a teaching group as such, but our group does help members to become more aware of safety in the workshop; we show them how to use power tools safely and generally help to improve their woodworking skills and knowledge.
Do members have to bring their own materials and tools, or are they provided?
A new member is given some timber to get them started; one way is to show them the art of Intarsia. This is a good starting point in using a scroll saw and getting a fine sanding finish.
We now have a large selection of tools and equipment, which all members can use, but members are free to bring their own tools if they so desire. We have a large selection of timbers that members can purchase, and our storeroom has a large selection of accessories – pen parts, clocks, screws etc.
Describe the charity work the club has been involved with …
For the past 2 years we have made over a thousand wooden toys, which were distributed to the drought affected regions of NSW by the CWA. These were well received by the children and gave members a great deal of pleasure.
We’ve helped with construction projects for the hospital, maintenance projects for Timbertown, money boxes for the Koala Hospital, donations to the Koala Hospital and the Oncology Unit at Port Macquarie Base Hospital and assisted the CWA with their annual Land Cookery competition by taking the cake entries to be judged.
This year we will be donating to Camp Quality.
Our club is quite often asked by different organisations to make or fix some item. We recently restored a clock for the Douglas Vale Winery. The original clock was misplaced, and a replica was made using similar movement parts relative to the era.
Community service organisations that we have assisted are the Area Health Dept, Royal Blind Society, Bethany Nursing Home, Hastings Gallery, Christian Outreach Centre, Salvation Army, Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie Base Hospital, Wauchope High School, Wauchope Library, Driver Reviver, Oncology Unit Base Hospital and the Hastings Toy Library.
Are there any interesting activities on the agenda in the near future?
Our main revenue comes from our annual raffle. In the past few years we have had an item (a collage of Australiana) that involves all members. This year it is a mirror in a Billabong setting (which includes a frog, platypus, egret, duck). This will be drawn at our annual show at Panthers auditorium on Sunday 10 October.
We have a general meeting once a month; this is a great opportunity for members to raise concerns and put up suggestions, and this is followed by lunch. We also have a Show and Tell at the end of the meeting. This is a very popular part of our meeting, as it gives members an opportunity to showcase their work.
Your club is now well and truly a part of the Timbertown community?
After the recent sale of Timbertown by the Hastings Council, the new owners invited us to stay. We are now assisting them by playing an active role in providing demonstrations in woodworking and speaking to the public and entertaining the children with wooden puzzles and games. In a small way we have been helping with the Timbertown renovations.
How can interested people find out more about the club?
We currently have around 70 members. While we do not go out looking for new members, we would like anyone who may be interested in joining us to come out or contact Kev Carmody (Secretary) on 6581 5704, or ring the Club on 0488 531 431 between 0930 and 1530 hours.
Come and have a look at our shed, speak to members and see if it suits you. As stated before it is not just woodworking; we do other things i.e. demonstrations, talk to the public, visit shopping centres, attend craft shows, sell raffle tickets etc.
All information will be given to a prospective member on application, or visit us at our annual show at Port Panthers on 8, 9 or 10 October, where we will have information handouts.
Thank you Kevin.