A FEW years ago there were just five men’s sheds in the whole country.
But now there are 30 or so within a 50-mile radius of Portsmouth.
And many more are being planned for communities across the area such as Paulsgrove, Cosham and Hayling Island.
The phenomenal success of the men’s shed movement has led to the formation of a southern network.
And the inaugural meeting took place at the Stacey Community Centre in Walsall Road, Copnor.
Seventeen men’s sheds were represented at the meeting – from as far away as Reading and Poole.
The plan is to share ideas and expertise.
The movement started in Australia in the 1990s and has since spread across the world as a way for older people to socialise, do activities and build things.
Stephen Redrup, 59, a retired IT consultant from Eastney, divides his time between the Copnor and Old Portsmouth sheds.
He said: ‘I have an IT background but other sheds might not have a clue how to set up a website.
‘So we are not trying to create a competing association. This is literally the sheds trying to find a way to talk together and share resources, expertise and ideas.’
Regarding the success of the scheme, he said: ‘I think there’s probably a lot of lonely people out there and communities break down.
‘This is a way for older men to reform community spirit.
‘With the way housing is now with lots of flats, not everyone has the opportunity to have a shed any more.
‘They say that women talk face to face and men talk shoulder to shoulder.
‘That’s kind of the philosophy behind men’s sheds.’
The Old Portsmouth shed has helped with restoration work at St George’s Church and built a Santa’s sleigh for Portsmouth and Southsea Round Table.
And the scheme recently caught the attention of Prime Minister David Cameron, when members of Gosport Shed visited Downing Street to ask for help for a permanent base.
Roy Sparshott, 71, who attends Gosport Shed, said: ‘The meeting went well. It’s going to give us a much bigger voice.
‘It’s amazing how many men say “I have got a reason to get up in the morning now”.’