THE Bega Men's Shed was officially opened at the Old Bega Hospital site on Sunday by Member for Bega Andrew Constance.
Mr Constance thanked Eric Myers, the committee's president and his team for their great effort in pursuing the project over many years.
The NSW Treasurer said that at the G20 he had been told that he would only be remembered as treasurer if he said “no” to everything, “but I couldn't say no to the Bega Men's Shed”.
He said the State Government may have provided the funds, but it was the volunteer work and generosity of local businesses and individuals that made sure the men's shed was erected and would become a community asset.
Mr Constance said men's sheds were “so important for the health of the community, and well done to everyone concerned”.
He was cheered when he said that next he would be looking at doing something for the fire-damaged Old Bega Hospital.
Mr Myers said that some five years ago he had been doing volunteer work at the Bega Information Office when a man came up and said “Hey, where's your men's shed?”
He decided to set up a steering committee, which consisted of himself as president, Tas Harlow as vice-president, Fiona Scott as secretary, Bob Russell as treasurer and Ray Spencer as publicity officer.
Some of the sites they looked at were the former Bega West School, North Bega and Frogs Hollow, but it was Warren Paige who had suggested approaching the Old Bega Hospital Trust about building the shed there.
Social meetings were held at the cottage on the Old Bega Hospital grounds and as Crown Lands had a Memorandum of Understanding with the Men's Shed Association it wasn't long until a licence was agreed upon.
The first funding came from the Masonic Lodge, but it was the NSW Community Building Partnership that provided the main funds.
Mr Myers thanked the businesses who helped with the building mostly at no cost for labour, only for materials.
These included Chris McWhinney for the frame, Mark Stres for the windows and guttering and showing how to do the cladding, Laurence Goodheart the roof and roller door, and Steve Robertson for the underground power and the power for the shed.
He said funds had already been provided for stage two, which would be for a kitchen clean room, a disabled toilet and parking.
It has very much been a community effort, he said, and to thank the many organisations and individuals involved, the Men's Shed had taken out an advertisement in the Bega District News naming them.
“Blokes came come and get involved with what they want to do or just socialise or have a cuppa,” he said.
The Bega Men's Shed will be open on Thursdays from 9am to noon at the moment, but soon it should be two days a week.