The Worshipful Company of Turners

Supporting the Craft, City and Charity for over four hundred years

Countryways Workshop open day

This event was to officially open the ‘Countryways’ woodworking workshop project sited on a working farm at Great Missenden. ‘Countryways’ provides a safe environment for young people with learning difficulties, and this can include woodturning.

The event was an opportunity for proprietors Wendy and Duncan Grey to say a big thank you to those who have supported this wonderful resource that is making a difference to many young people. The turners Company have generously donated an essential dust extraction system.

Turners Company Master Matthew Gaved attended and was supported by Company members David Batchelor and Christopher Scott. The event was opened by freeman Stuart King.

The story of Countryways by Duncan Grey

I am not a highly skilled woodworker or craftsman. By training and time served I am actually a Butcher, having worked in that Trade for most of 30 years. Having said that, a lot of what I do now at Countryways involves tools, generally sharp ones, and wood, in various forms. Whether coppicing, hedgerow, or woodland work further afield. Or here in the yard making and fixing things that are of interest or use to Countryways or Road Farm. Often, as you can see, from pallets or other reclaimed and purposed wood as well as the timber from the countryside work.

For those I work with, and in truth myself, it is often so much more than just making stuff or work. It is trust, confidence, interaction, space, sharing; it is pleasure in a skill or making an idea happen; it is many things. So, when the new life of this building was being planned, a workspace was very much part of it. At that time we were contacted by a family who’s recently passed Dad had been a Farmer and wood turner, and Mother a senior Teacher with in special needs education. They had heard of Care Farming, and of Countryways, so asked if we would be able to use a lathe and associated tools…it would nicely combine and continue the interests and lives of both parents?
I confessed I had never used a lathe. However, a good friend, Luke, was a very good turner, his Dad was even better! Also both had for many years shared their skills and knowledge. ….. I’ll take their advice.

A short while after that, we had a lathe, bandsaw, a fantastic old school work bench and various other useful equipment. Alongside our hand tools, the start of the workshop. This led on to meeting Stuart King, who has been a major source of encouragement and support. Reuben our son attended Young Turner days, I started woodturning, several young people then getting to try it – with one making enough money from items he sold to buy his Grandad a very special Hornby model train for Christmas.

Also meeting various members of the AWGB and Worshipful Company of Turners, some of whom are here today. Many of these people not just passionate about training and passing on skills, but of the wider impacts on life these can have for some, especially young people.

Through the active support, involvement and vision of the Worshipful Company of Turners, the AWGB and its Young Turners scheme, Axminster Tools and their High Wycombe shop, the potential of the Countryways Workshop has grown beyond any of our initial hopes and plans since the generosity of the Stanford family. Of course, organisations are made up of individuals, and we have too many of those to thank to read out a full list.

I would like to specifically thank Gary Rance and Luke, for being that initial introduction to Turning and of the potential for the workshop as a place for teaching and training. Particularly Gary’s patience and skill in wrestling with a butchery trained bear in my early turning lessons and his continued and key support for this. Also Stuart King, who Wendy will introduce. Within the Company of Turners are the Howe Committee and the Charity Committee. We would be grateful if the Master Matthew Gaved and Christopher Scott would pass on our sincere gratitude to those Committees and the wider membership. Your support is truly valued.

Personally I would like to thank David Batchelor and Melissa Scott, both former Masters. Conversations with them at Young Turners days, were very encouraging, seeing the value of what happens here at Countryways from the outside. Funding from the Company has purchased a dust extraction system and sharpening set-up from Axminster Tools. Craig, the High Wycombe manager visited with a colleague to see our needs then returned for a day to deliver and install it all.

From the AWGB Young Turners special thanks to Ron Caddy, Stuart Mortimer, Les Thorne and again Gary Rance, for their support of the Countryways Workshop as a training venue and placing the training lathes here. Thank you.

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