THE official opening of the Narooma Woodies’ new workshop took place at the old Bodalla Public School on Saturday.
The Narooma District Woodcrafters Association or Narooma Woodies as they are more commonly known was formed in 1991 by three men who were interested in fostering woodcraft in the area.
Over the years the men have met regularly at various meeting places including Narooma High School, member’s workshops or homes and more recently at Colin Cooper’s Workshop in the Dalmeny Industrial area.
During this time they have been looking for a location where the group could set up a workshop on crown or council land.
About two years ago, former mayor Fergus Thomson suggested to the Woodies that they approach the Department of Education about using the old, very run-down Bodalla Public School.
After many protracted negotiations and with the help of State Member Andrew Constance, a lease was signed in March this year to occupy the site excluding the old headmaster’s cottage.
Woodies members with the help of Corrective Services work crews then carried out extensive cleaning of the site of overgrown vegetation and the restoration of one of the classrooms into a workshop working tirelessly for six months.
The new workshop was named after Woodies member Lawrie Ramsey who passed away earlier in the year.
Lawrie’s passion was wood and he had a fully equipment workshop at Dalmeny.
After his passing, Laurie’s wife Margery had hoped that one of their four sons would be interested in his woodwork equipment but that didn’t eventuate so she donated the lot to the Narooma Woodies.
“One day, David Schmid and Brian came to visit and I handed them the key to Lawrie’s workshop and told them to take the lot,” Margery said.
“Laurie was a school teacher for most of his life and he always had a passion for wood, so it was very appropriate that his equipment ended up at the school.
“He would have loved to have seen that.”
During the opening ceremony, Mr Constance told guests that it was good to see infrastructure being looked after and used rather than letting it continue to run down.
“Let’s hope the Education Department don’t want to sell off its unused assets too quickly,” he said.
Woodies president David Schmid said that the Lawrie Ramsey Workshop would be a bit like a Men’s Shed only purely focused on wood.
“The idea is that the workshop is for men’s wellbeing where like-minded persons can develop and encourage excellence in woodcraft in related fields in a relaxed hassle free atmosphere.
The Woodies plan on applying for more grants to keep improving the old school.
“I have a bit of a pipe-dream,” Mr Schmid said.
“One day I would like to see the rest of the school turned into an artisan’s village,” he said.