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Stour Valley Men’s Shed launches in Long Melford to serve ‘blokes of a certain age’

For many retired men, the loss of camaraderie from the workplace can lead to a feeling of isolation.

But the burgeoning UK Men’s Shed movement has set its sights on serving “blokes of a certain age” – and a new group is looking to carry that torch for the Sudbury area.

More than 60 people attended the opening of the Stour Valley Men’s Shed at Long Melford Football Club this month.

Colin Muddimer, centre, with fellow members at the official opening of Stour Valley Men’s Shed. Picture: Mark Westley
Colin Muddimer, centre, with fellow members at the official opening of Stour Valley Men’s Shed. Picture: Mark Westley

It is the first permanent home of the group, which aims to provide a space for men to meet up and make or repair things, while socialising, sharing skills and building connections.

It began when retired Sudbury Upper School teacher Colin Muddimer and his former pupil Paul Thompson, groundsman at Long Melford FC, organised a meeting to gauge interest.

More than 50 people turned up, far exceeding their expectations and showing the demand for such a group, and the meeting also raised the opportunity to take over the old club changing rooms building.

Men’s shed chairman Mr Muddimer said members worked together for months to remove the interior walls to create the space it is today, which contains a workshop and social area.

“It has been a long road, but a very successful one, and I’m so proud of the lads here for the work they’ve done,” he told the Free Press.

“When a gentleman gets to retirement age, very often, they feel isolated, because they don’t get the companionship that they previously had at work.

“A lot of men just miss that, and the closest thing is going down the pub, which involves alcohol and expense.

“Men’s Shed, as an organisation, really does work. It’s somewhere for blokes to be able to talk, have a bit of sensible fun, and we can offer to repair things for people who can’t afford to buy a replacement.

“We’re a community service, in that we’re helping people who are doing the community service. It’s a win-win situation, because the wives get a bit of peace, and it reduces isolation for the blokes.

“We’ve got a good shed and good people here, who feel the camaraderie that’s missing when they retire.”

Mr Muddimer also paid tribute to the various donors who had made their workshop possible, including a grant from Sudbury Town Council and individual contributions from local councillors.

The largest donation was from another former pupil of his, Paul Kelling – managing director of Prosteel in Great Waldingfield – who provided £3,500 towards the project.

Mr Muddimer added that they are still seeking funds to improve the building, such as roof repairs and installing a toilet for disabled users.

To learn more, go online to www.stourvalleymenssshed.com.