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Peter and Marie's Story

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Finding purpose and passion in a shed

With 53 years of experience working as a solicitor, wearing a suit every day and dealing with high pressure clients and deadlines, Peter was great at his job.

But what came after that? That’s the question Peter struggled with as he approached his retirement.

What came along was something unexpected… a love for woodwork and making things with his hands.

It all came about after retirement when Peter reluctantly went to a Men’s Shed and saw others making beautiful things with timber. The Men’s Shed program encourages men to work with their hands, make friends, and tackle projects from building furniture to restoring bicycles. Peter was inspired and decided he would like to try making something.

Peter began visiting Men’s Shed and learning how to make toy trains. He enjoyed working with the other men and was proud of the trains they made together. Peter was able to chat with other like-minded men, make friends and stay socially connected, all the while working on his new-found craft.

However Peter was also living with Parkinson’s, which meant that due to safety reasons he wasn’t able to use some of the tools and machinery, limiting what he could create at the Men’s Shed.

Over time Peter and his wife Marie thought some extra support at home would allow Peter to explore and enjoy woodwork, in a safe environment. BaptistCare assisted by appointing Alan, a fully qualified carpenter to visit Peter once a week to help him with building toy trains and other wooden items.

Alan and Peter got along really well from the beginning and have now become friends. Alan works as the foreman and Peter is the labourer. Alan shows Peter how to do the steps involved and then assists him with it. He also teaches Peter how to use the safety features on the tools.

Peter has become happier since Alan started helping out. He enjoys the challenge and exercising his brain and even more than that, he has something to look forward to every week.

His toy trains have become a success and he currently has seven orders from his family. Peter says he “thinks of the grandkids playing with the toy trains on Christmas Day” and that’s what gives him a feeling of purpose and worth. Peter and Alan have also made desks for Marie, three picnic tables and many toys.

Today, Peter, now 82, is no longer able to work at the Men’s Shed as his Parkinson’s makes using the tools tricky. He now sits and watches others so he can copy it at home with Alan. He is very grateful as he realises he “would not have been able to do any woodwork without Alan’s help”.

This new passion has also helped Peter form another link with his family. His 25 year old grandson is a carpenter in Canberra, and he sent timber for Peter just as he was starting his first project at home.

Peter’s next goal is to make Spitfires and then maybe sail boats. He says “I can’t sleep at night time, because I am thinking of what I can make next.”

“I never thought I was any good at making toys, but with a bit of help, I go for it. I am a bit deaf, I have trouble with my eyes, and I will keep going as long as I can. I am good because I enjoy what I am doing. “

Peter’s story shows us nothing is impossible with a bit of help and purpose can be found in the most unexpected of places.

BaptistCare’s YouChoose gives seniors choice and control, and places them firmly in charge of their care. Maintaining independence at home looks different for everyone, so customers can tailor a combination of care to support their wellbeing and enable them to continue to do the things they love.

If you or someone you love is looking for help to remain socially active and engaged with the community, contact BaptistCare on 1300 275 227 or visit baptistcare.org.au/athome.

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