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June 8, 2021

Recognition for shedders

The reopening of Scotland’s Men’s Sheds could be a metaphor for the rest of the country. Gradual, tentative in places but long awaited and a vital cog in the much needed return to some semblance of normality. As part of the national volunteers’ week, two Sheds in particular have just won the highest award in the volunteering world – The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – in recognition of their outstanding contribution to their communities. Nice wee film from one of them too. Congratulations to all involved.


Two Scottish Men’s Sheds have been announced as winners of this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) – the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK in recognition of their outstanding and diverse work to benefit their communities.

Today’s announcement, which coincides with Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), celebrates Aberchirder and District Men’s Shed and Westhill and District Men’s Shed receiving this prestigious award.

The number of nominations remains high year on year – evidencing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them – and the Sheds were two out of 241 UK charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive this accolade in 2021.

Representatives from the two Sheds will receive the award crystal and certificate in addition to attending a garden party at Holyroodhouse Palace in July 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time) along with other award recipients.

Aberchirder and District Men’s Shed (ADMS), ‘Scottish Men’s Shed of the Year’ 2019, began in 2016 when its Shedders took over an area of derelict land from Aberdeenshire Council. The early months of their existence focused on clearing the ground and creating a Shed from portable cabins.

Subsequently, they have grown significantly over the years and provide an opportunity for men to meet socially, make connections, utilise existing skills, learn new skills, mentor others and serve the community. ADMS provides a facility for wood and metal working; computing classes; volunteers for local events (e.g. stewarding at the Ride of the North cycle event); greenhouse and gardening; repairs to community assets; community projects for the local school (e.g. making a chicken coop and mud kitchen for the pupils); support for other community groups (e.g. construction of a memorial bench for the Beavers and teaching the Scouts skills to build a Kart); and supports its Community Association whenever needed (e.g. providing power for the Christmas tree lights).

ADMS Chairman, Mike O’Brien, said: “It is a great honour to be awarded the prestigious QAVS. Our members are immensely proud and delighted that our villagers recognise the efforts we have made to create a safe and friendly environment where men can meet to make (and mend), talk, put the world to rights, drink coffee and help to foster a community spirit. Nominating our Shed, particularly during lockdown, highlights the exceptional relationship the Shed has with the Aberchirder and District community.”

Andrew Simpson, Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire, said: “I am delighted that Aberchirder & District Men’s Shed has been recognised in this way. The Shed has made a significant difference to the lives of people in their community – not least during the period of the pandemic. During our assessment visits we were impressed by their commitment to serving the people in their area.”

Westhill and District Men’s Shed (WDMS), the first-ever Men’s Shed in Scotland, is a place where men can meet to socialise and work together on a wide variety of projects and hobbies.

Using their well-equipped workshop, men of all ages, backgrounds and interests share their skills working on personal and community projects. It is a unique place where men can socialise and satisfy their wish to be productive and, in turn, improve their health and wellbeing.

Shedders work together on a variety of projects. The members created the Archie bench at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and its modelling group is currently working on a model of the Peterhead Prison Railway which will be on display in the Peterhead Prison Museum. WDMS repairs, re-furbishes and recycles garden equipment (from spades to mowers) giving them a new lease of life. The Shed  also carries out various community projects including making benches, raised beds etc. for local charities, schools and groups.

WDMS received the QAVS with ‘special recognition’ for its production of vital personal protective equipment (face visors) for keyworkers in the early days of the pandemic when there was a global shortage.

WDMS Chairman, David Thomson, said: “It is a great honour to receive this prestigious award. Our Shed is an ideal place where men can go and get the benefit of socialising, sharing interests, exchanging experiences, learning new skills and working side by side with other men. This award recognises the commitment of our members, who are all volunteers, for the work they do on a variety of projects for the local community”

Jason Schroeder, Executive Officer of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association, said: “Today’s announcement recognises the outstanding contributions these Sheds have made in their local communities. This is a wonderful tribute to these men – as volunteers – for all of their hard work, commitment and dedication to support each other whilst also making a real difference in today’s society.”

The QAVS was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and recipients are announced each year on the 2nd June – the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including an inclusive tennis club in Lincolnshire; a children’s bereavement charity in London; a support group for those living with dementia and their carers in North Yorkshire; a volunteer minibus service in Cumbria; a group supporting young people in Belfast; a community radio station in Inverness and a mountain rescue team in Powys.