Woodworkers launch £30,000 bid to build workshop for heroes

help for heroes_robert sorby

Quality hand tool manufacturer Robert Sorby has launched a campaign with a group of woodworking volunteers to help change the lives of veterans and members of the Armed Forces on the road to recovery.

The goal is to raise £30,000 to build and equip a woodworking facility for wounded, injured and sick servicemen, servicewomen and veterans at the Help for Heroes run Phoenix House Recovery Centre, Catterick, North Yorkshire.

The move follows a series of successful workshops where injured servicemen, women and veterans received first-hand experience turning and carving wood. The response was so positive that a campaign to create a more permanent fixture was launched at the North of England Woodworking and Power Tool Show in Harrogate in November.

The project aims to offer recovering soldiers the opportunity to be inspired by master woodsmen from many disciplines including coracle building, bow making, carving and woodturning. “The guys who visited Robert Sorby had a fantastic time and were really engaged in the process. Woodworking is very therapeutic in many ways and we are confident that we would have a long waiting list were we able to offer our wounded, injured and sick servicemen, women and veterans the opportunity to have a go on a more regular basis! We are very grateful to Robert Sorby for offering to help make this a reality,” said Kelly Bostock, Support Programme Manager at Phoenix House.

“Woodworking is tactile and artistic and takes the blokes’ minds off their troubles. At the very least, it brings out their creative side which some don’t realise they have; while others have not used it for many years. At its highest, it is a vocational skill that could prompt the start of a new career. And, once we have a few enthusiastic woodworkers, who knows – we may be able to sell their handmade products to raise money for Help for Heroes.”

As well as raising money from the public at events and shows across the country, campaign organisers are asking the woodworking industry to get involved by donating tools and equipment to kit out the workshop.

Former Warrant Officer Chris Morgan, Dave Purvis, chairman of the Coracle Society and Catterick local and bow maker Fred Bates, set up The Woodworking Volunteers soon after the new centre opened its doors earlier this year.

With the help of Robert Sorby and the staff at Phoenix House, a more permanent fixture was discussed and the Workshop for Heroes campaign was born with the ambition of making woodworking part of services available to centre users.

“We’re extremely happy to be offering our services to support this fantastic initiative,” said Dave. “We set up The Woodworking Volunteers to ensure Phoenix House has a long term woodworking provision to offer the men and women recovering at the centre.

“Our task is to recruit any assistance we can from other craft workers and instructors to support the proposed workshop. But the first job is getting the facility up and kitted out. This is where we’re hoping woodworkers and the woodworking industry can help.”

Robert Sorby, managing director, Phil Proctor added: “We started with two woodturning workshops for Help for Heroes recovery centres at Phoenix House in Catterick and Chavasse VC House in Colchester. We hoped woodturning would be a fantastic addition to the services provided at the centres and that it would certainly help with the rehabilitation and recovery process.

“It became clear from the beginning that a workshop onsite would provide centre users with further opportunity, providing a sustained woodworking facility and a foundation to develop all types of woodworking provision. It would also provide a base to invite expert and professional woodworkers from all disciplines to guide and tutor centre users.”

“We’re delighted to be a part of the project and request all our colleagues in the woodworking business to do what they can to help.”