Woodworkers at Minstead Trust turn on the style with new lathes

Woodworkers at a New Forest training centre for adults with learning disabilities turned on their creative skills when an internationally acclaimed craftsman dropped in on a session to demonstrate just what a lathe can do.

Colwin Way, who has travelled the world showing and teaching his craft, visited students on the woodwork course at the Minstead Training Trust to officially hand over two new lathes to the centre which helps prepare adults with learning disabilities to achieve greater independence so they can lead meaningful lives.

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“Learning how to work with wood using the lathes and other tools is a real confidence builder. Using the kit safely gives the students an outlet for their creativity. They start out on small projects like making pens or jewellery and can then move on to bigger and more difficult pieces,” said Colwin.

The Minstead Trust was given two lathes so students could be taught how to work on them. The training centre then sent out an SOS for volunteer woodworkers to come along and run sessions.

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As a result, eight members of the Hampshire Woodturners Association (HWA) stepped up to help and now every Thursday they run classes for the 10 students who expressed an interest in working with the lathes.

“The students have made some fantastic pieces,” said Alan Sturgess, treasurer of the Association. “It makes me really proud to have been part of this project because everyone has worked so well together and everyone has benefitted from it.”

Students Trevor Davis and Philip Norris said they really enjoy the wood work sessions. “It makes me feel happy when I am using the lathe,” said Trevor. “I have got lots of new skills,” added Philip.

After working with students on the old lathes the woodturners realised new machines would quickly be needed if classes were to continue, so they clubbed together, did some fund raising and approached Axminster Tools and Machinery.

Axminster was able to supply the Trust with two new lathes and chucks and sales director Alan Styles joined HWA members at the official handover.

“At Axminster we run demonstrations and courses to help people work with wood – Colwin is one of our instructors – so we were keen to support the training project. Visiting the Trust was great – it was wonderful to see what a difference the woodwork course has made to the students. They are so keen and have a real sense of pride in their finished articles,” said Alan.

Minstead team leader Mandy Ross, who runs the workshop, said she couldn’t thank Axminster and the HWA enough. “When we started out on this project I never thought it would develop the way it has. The students have grown in confidence and ability and they get so much pleasure out of working with wood.”

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The two new machines now take pride of place in the Trust’s workshop and every Thursday the students take it in turn to have one-to-one sessions with the volunteers from HWA.

Trust chief executive Madeleine Durie thanked both the HWA and Axminster for their support and generosity. “This project has been a phenomenal success. The students have produced some beautiful products and more importantly they have developed as individuals,” she said.