Volunteers Week – Abbotskerswell Repair Workshop
This Volunteers’ Week we’re talking to people across Devon about what it’s like to be a volunteer.
Today we’re meeting Vernon Stunt who volunteers for Abbotskerswell Repair Workshop. Vernon has been involved from the start and, in fact, was the driving force behind getting the group up and running in late 2019.
Vernon has always enjoyed woodwork and helping his neighbours with small carpentry jobs, and felt he benefited from it as much as they did. He banded together a small group of other like-minded folk to offer their various skills to the wider community and – boom! – the Abbotskerwell Repair Workshop was born! They now have a team of around 15 volunteers with a range of skills such as PAT testing electrical equipment and repairing garden machinery and musical stringed instruments.
Since then, the group of merry menders have been busy repairing broken items, upcycling used items, selling donated items, sharpening tools, mending small electricals, carrying out small repair jobs for the Parish council and even servicing the village shop’s ham slicer! Their biggest recycling job is to turn an old run down chapel into a village asset that will be run by volunteers for the benefit of the community.
Vernon has had one or two memorable moments along the way. Two old chairs donated by a retired couple to help raise funds turned out to be worth a staggering £6,000! When he told them of their value, they said they’d had a third chair but it had a broken leg so they chopped it up for firewood! More recently, an old Edwardian railway station gas lamp donated in poor condition sold for over £400 on eBay after it had been fixed! The moral of the story? Always try to repair first!
As Chair of the Repair Workshop, Vernon is a general organiser as well as mender. “Every day is different, it could be a phone call from someone wanting to donate some unwanted items, or a request to sharpen some shears. I also get emails about various jobs too. We assist the Parish Council where we can – it helps our local community and we all enjoy the benefits.”
The covid pandemic has made it a challenging year but Vernon and the team have found ways to work safely. “We all feel that volunteering and being involved in helping with recycling / repairing has actually helped us, as individuals, through these very difficult times” he says. “The one thing that we are all so looking forward to, is working TOGETHER in our own workshop!”
What does Vernon enjoy about volunteering? “My personal rewards are watching folk gain self-satisfaction in achieving positive results in so many different directions. Everyone has something to offer, be it a hands on skill, financial know how, specific knowledge of certain task, local history.
A successful volunteer is one that can see that their efforts are making a difference and they really enjoy their role, plus the comradery that comes with it.”
Want to know more about Abbotskerswell Repair Workshop or donate items? Check out their Facebook page!
If you have time or skills to offer and you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, read more about it here.