Opinion: Wishing SAMS a very happy birthday

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SAMS is a year old and toddling nicely. Sleights Area Men’s Shed in Littlebeck is a good news story for which I declare a parental responsibility.

If you don’t know SAMS, please do Google and maybe watch the early video by Yorkshire Coast Homes.

It’s about men who are at some kind and degree of loss, at risk of isolation.

As a parent, shouldn’t I claim credit for the baby’s conception? Not so, because SAMS was an adoptee from Oz! In infancy SAMS had many aunts, uncles and even a fairy godmother helping in development.

There are now more as the toddler continues to grow, and even has a little sister on the way – the She-Shed.

SAMS has the DNA of collaboration which, for my part, derives from antecedents of Street Angels, the Food Bank and Fit~4~You exercise.

Bloodline was enriched by the Aussie Sheds.Next up for recognition are two advocates of teamwork, Bob Hodge of Sleights and Ian Peck of Coast and Vale Community Action.

Then thanks to those who founded SAMS, believed in its worth, put in the work and realised an ethos of caring camaraderie. I’m thankful that Littlebeck Methodist Chapel opened its doors for SAMS to happen and to cause disturbance. Done for love not money. Dr Rory Newman (now retired) perceived the Shed as having great potential and encouraged us on.

Into the picture at the beginning came Kate Bennett of NYCC Living Well Team. She was the first support worker we met, catching the vision.

Karen Atkinson of NYCC’ Stronger Communities met us, understood the nature of a Shed’s deeper wellbeing role.

That released funding!

I’m proud of the 25 Shedders. Each makes a distinctive contribution of skill, personality or both. Truly the Shed is what they have made it. Our volunteer trainers, turner Keith Nellis and carver Tony Cooper, deserve medals for patience. I’m pleased that ladies who sneaked into the Shed did not disturb the male banter and even provided material for it.

They proved that women can enjoy a workshop atmosphere, sparking thoughts of a Ladies Shed in Whitby.

The local clergy (and Fylingdale police!) find their way in. Veronica Carolan and Jane Carter enjoy a cuppa.

Andrew Carter came and made his own walking stick.

Businesses gave support with gifts in kind. Local residents John and Julia Weeks made space for an overflow workshop.

The Ladies Shed has gained the support of MIND, Whitby DAG, the Alzheimer Society, the Anchorage and Living Well. These agencies are important partners who help safeguard SAMS.

The Whitby Gazette and other local media blow the trumpet for us and also other voluntary groups. They help us get our messages out to the community. That is invaluable.Probably this reads like an acceptance speech at the Oscars. However, I think it important that while SAMS birthday is celebrated so must the contributions by many people with real names and faces who jointly hold a shared vision with commitment and drive.

Why do it? All parties, but in particular the Shedders, know the worth of SAMS for raising the spirits and releasing smiles. Celebrate SAMS, but also the work of a host of volunteers who daily contribute to numerous community services.