Crookwell Men's Shed broke ranks to accept five women

Two years ago women in Crookwell unlocked the doors to the Men’s Shed.

The club that had been strictly men’s business amended its constitution in order for the women to join.

Today, there are five women who frequent the shed to invent, restore and build on a Tuesday, and on Monday and Wednesday, “men’s days”, they don’t enter the shed.

Changing the rules: The Crookwell Men's Shed amended the constitution for women (L-R) Susanne Hutton and Mandy McDonald. Photo: Clare McCane

Changing the rules: The Crookwell Men's Shed amended the constitution for women (L-R) Susanne Hutton and Mandy McDonald. Photo: Clare McCane

Sandy Martin, Susanne Hutton, Mandy McDonald, Marg Luntungan and Gaby Atkins are the women who have joined the ranks.

They work on typical restoration work; Mrs Hutton is repairing a door frame and Mrs Atkins a rocking horse. Or their own projects; Mrs McDonald recently completed picture frames, and Ms Martin has almost completed a dog kennel.

It took a year of persistence for the space to become accessible to the women. “I nagged Don (Southwell) unrelentingly, I have a black belt in nagging,” Mrs McDonald said.

Mr Southwell is the “engineer” at the shed, and the secretary. “The only way is to give in gracefully,” Mr Southwell said.

“Happy wife, happy life,” joked Ms Martin.

The women are now able to use the space that once held refuge for the men folk. With the training and guidance of the men these women have been able to harness their skills and creativity, and also chip in and lend a hand.

“Collectively we’ve done some great things,” Mrs McDonald said.

Mrs Luntungan and Mrs McDonald attended the National Art School and were able to put to use practices they had learned at the shed.

“We are about to learn wood curving,” said Mrs McDonald.

“It took about 12 months to change the constitution and get permission from the chaps,” Mr Southwell said.

“We had to amend the rules to get ladies in, they’re all associate members,” he said.

While the traditional shed cares for the welfare of older men both physically and mentally, it is now mutual, Mr Southwell said.

The Crookwell Men's 'and Ladies' Shed: (L-R) Sandy Martin, Susanne Hutton, Mandy McDonald, Don Southwell and John Medway.

The Crookwell Men's 'and Ladies' Shed: (L-R) Sandy Martin, Susanne Hutton, Mandy McDonald, Don Southwell and John Medway.