Ballina Community Men’s Shed team leader Graham Eggins (front) with Ballina Jockey Club general manager Matthew Bertram, after the club’s board provided in-principle support to provide land for the long-awaited workshop.
Ballina Community Men’s Shed team leader Graham Eggins (front) with Ballina Jockey Club general manager Matthew Bertram, after the club’s board provided in-principle support to provide land for the long-awaited workshop. Graham Broadhead

Men’s shed bets on Ballina racecourse site being a winner

IT’S “take five” for the Ballina Community Men’s Shed in its bid to find land for a permanent home.

The board of the Ballina Jockey Club has given the blokes in-principle support for a workshop to be built on the Crown land at the racecourse, managed by the Ballina Jockey Club Trust.

This is the fifth site for the proposed shed, but team leader Graham Eggins thinks this time the group, formed in 2010, is on a winner.

“We’re thrilled and excited with the support we’re getting from the Ballina Jockey Club,” Mr Eggins said.

There is added pressure for the “relocation and expansion project”, launched in 2013, as the men have been advised they will have to move from their temporary home at Southern Cross School K-12 on August 1 to allow for more students in the lead-up to the building of the new “super school” at the Ballina High site.

Mr Eggins said it was a senior Ballina Shire Council staff member who suggested the men’s shed hold talks with the jockey club about use of the land it manages.

Previous proposed sites for the shed include council-owned land at Fishery Creek Rd, North Creek Rd and Southern Cross Dr.

Mr Eggins said the men had to return a State Government grant of $70,000 and Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation grant of $77,500 after the Fishery Creek Rd plan was rejected because of access issues and the need to build up the land.

But the men are looking to the future, and hope to successfully reapply for both those grants to go towards the estimated $632,000 to build the shed at the racecourse.

WE DID IT: The members of the Ballina Community Men's Shed celebrate after a garage sale held recently raised the target $3400 to buy a dust extractor.Photo Contributed
The members of the Ballina Community Men’s Shed celebrate after a garage sale held recently raised the target $3400 to buy a dust extractor. Contributed

The group will launch the Ballina Builds a Shed fundraising campaign tomorrow, with the goal of raising $85,000.

The men also have secured in-kind support from professionals valued at $95,000.

The men’s shed currently has 45 members, but Mr Eggins said that figure would increase significantly once the blokes have a permanent home.

He clarified that men who join the shed don’t necessarily have depression, but the aim of the men’s shed movement was to give blokes a space to come together to avoid isolation and prevent things like depression.

Ballina Community Men’s Shed members will man an information and donation desk at Ballina Fair on Thursdays from tomorrow to September 1 – except June 16, 23 and July 21 – between 9am and noon.

Donations of $2 and more to the group are tax deductible and can be made at the stall or directly into the campaign bank account – BSB 062502, account number 10433922.