Kristy Essex, Don Jackson, Warren Moss, David Abraham, Emma Joseph, Ellie Hearfield and John Hobbs in the U3A Men's Shed.
Kristy Essex, Don Jackson, Warren Moss, David Abraham, Emma Joseph, Ellie Hearfield and John Hobbs in the U3A Men's Shed. Tim Jarrett

Massive donation has U3A Men's Shed in collective disbelief

THE announcement of a huge donation to the U3A Men's Shed was met with audible gasps and then rapturous applause.

"We were successful in raising $22,983,” said Emma Joseph president of the Black Tie Ball.

There was a special vibe in the U3A Men's Shed in Grafton on Wednesday in Grafton as Ms Joseph made the big announcement in front of a packed room.

In a touching tribute to the hard work the women had put in to make the ball a success, several of the men stood up one by one and offered words of encouragement and thanks in response.

"It's a massive effort by the girls. I am really impressed and I hope all the members here appreciate what they do.” U3A Men's Shed's Bruce Carle said.

This year's Black Tie Ball was a rousing success and Ms Joseph said she was grateful to have the backing of the community, especially the Grafton District Services Club who donated $10,000.

In focusing on men's mental health, Ms Joseph said choosing the U3A Men's Shed as a beneficiary of the ball was "a perfect fit and a no-brainer”.

"When we first came to see you guys, we just felt like we were home,” she said.

"We were able to really see your vision of what you are trying to do here, not just for yourselves and your own mental health ... but the community, your families and beyond.”

Mr Carle said the Black Tie Ball would have a special place in the hearts of the shed's members and they were very grateful for the donation.

He said he wanted to use the money to replace a recently broken dust extractor and then to improve the ventilation and lighting to make the space more accessible and safe for members.

"I am looking at putting ventilators in that run on solar and that will take a lot of the dust out of the air, that should help the guys.”

"It's not totally on machinery, it's about their health.”

The U3A Men's shed provided men in the Valley a space to come to work and socialise and Mr Carle said he had seen it help a number of people over the years.

"I had one chap say to me that it saved his life and now he has been a big asset to the club and to the association here,” he said.

"So that has helped him a lot. And that's what it's about, the comradeship, working together, doing what we can together and creating a good atmosphere.”