Come for the tools. Stay for the mates.

Come for the tools. Stay for the mates.

As a brand new lifestyler getting to know your village, it can be hard to know what to do first. New Busselton homeowner Robert Ward was keen to get his hands on some of the machines in the workshop, so close to the top of his list was a full workshop induction with retired cabinet maker Eddie Ferridge and shed regular Norbert Heerwaarden.

“They’re very good, they go round and make sure you know how to use each of the pieces of equipment, because obviously they can be dangerous.” says Robert, “So that’s what Eddie’s kindly done today … I mean I’ve used it all before, but they have to know that I can do it. Every machine is different, and you have to be safety conscious more than anything else because the last thing you want is an accident.”

Robert and his wife Flora decided to downsize from their Wanneroo home after Robert was made redundant. “Because my work was specialised in Asia, I wasn’t able to get another job very easily, so it was an opportunity to look at things… We love Busselton, so when we came down in the caravan we came in here … The minute you walked into this village in particular, you could feel the difference, just friendlier and just has that really great feeling.”

Eddie isn’t sure what his first project will be, but being able to DIY is a big part of his retirement plan. “I build all my own stuff. Being able to do it in here will be a lot easier than doing it in the back yard. It’s great.”

Like Robert, Eddie’s downsize story started with a redundancy. He was a cabinet maker in the government for twenty years, designing furniture for handicapped kids. Eight years after making the move to Busselton, he still loves helping people and spends a lot of time designing furniture systems to make life easier for people in the village.

Right now for Robert, it’s all about getting onto the tools, but as Eddie points out, the workshop is hugely valuable in supporting the wellbeing of men in the village. “A lot of blokes just like to come in for a chat. Sometimes there are things they don’t want to talk to their wives about. We’re sounding boards – we’re not doctors or counsellors but we are good listeners.”

Despite being a fresh face, Robert looked right at home later that day playing bowls with a crowd of friends. “They’re a great great bunch of people here, so we’re very happy. Very happy indeed.”

(Image: L-R Norbert Van Heerwaarden, Robert Ward and Eddie Ferridge)