02 March 2018

A group of handy Stickmakers have carved out a bright future through a £5,000 community grant.
Durham Stickmakers have been meeting for 20 years and gather twice a week to learn the traditional craft of making walking sticks, canes, staffs and shepherds’ crooks.

Durham Stickmakers applied to the Enriching Later Life programme, managed by County Durham Community Foundation, for help towards running costs.

They were awarded a grant of £5,000 which will be used to help pay increasing rent, without having to pass on the cost to members in subscriptions.

Alan Robson, secretary of the club, said: “We are so grateful to CDCF for the grant - this means a lot to the group. There are so many friendships that have been created between members over many years. We support one another through difficult times such as marriage breakdowns and bereavements.

‘’One member who has been with the group for almost 20 years lost his wife in early 2017. While he took some time out to grieve his loss, the return to the group has become more important to him than ever.”

The 37 members meet twice a week at Fencehouses Community Centre and are always open to new members.

Alan says there is a real sense of camaraderie within the group and their activities help to reduce social isolation and contribute to the mental health and of members, the majority of whom are older men. Members mentor and support one another in the art and craft of Stickmaking, so that more than half their members are able to compete in national competitions.

Alan added: “We strongly believe that we are making a real contribution to the quality of life for our members. They tell us they spend us hours at home undertaking the stick-making work that doesn’t require the specialist equipment housed in our workshop.

“This means that men are absorbed in a hobby that contributes to their mental well-being, feelings of satisfaction and happiness, as well as family life.

“Several times a year we go out on Stickmakers’ expeditions, which involves us visiting woodlands, with the permission of landowners, to coppice mainly Hazel trees. This is both good for the tree in promoting its growth and provides our members with a cheap source of shanks.’’