The hard work from the Kingaroy Men's Shed
The hard work from the Kingaroy Men's Shed Elaelah Harley

Blind carpenter inspires the community

FOR some, a disability stops people from doing what they love, but not for William Ruddick, a member of the blind community who loves working in his shed.

Doing woodwork is a large part of Mr Ruddick's life, but it wasn't until he went blind, 37 years ago, that he learned the tricks of the trade.

"I started following a lot of demonstrations that Triton used to have, going around shopping centres and promoting, and using their equipment. I was fortunate enough to get onto a gentleman who used to be a demonstrator.

"We sort of formed a little bit of a liaison, where out of the goodness of his heart, he would come over and work with me on a one-on-one basis. He would do that about once a week, for about the first 12 months," Mr Ruddick said.

Despite learning in the dark, Mr Ruddick picked things up rather quickly.

"The situation arose where he would then become the person asking the questions when he was using the machines, and I was the demonstrator.

"We'd have all of the machines lined up and everything, because I had most of the equipment, and then he would ask me how I would go about doing a particular job, and then I would go and set it up the way I'd do it.

"That's how we interchanged different modes of achieving the same result, and because of that, I got into doing a fair amount of timber work," he said.

After working for 15 years as president of the Townsville Blind Society, Mr Ruddick moved to the South Burnett three months ago, where he actively searched for workshops he could use.

"When I came down here I was sort of at a bit of a loss, because I came down to live with my daughter, and I needed to find somewhere where I could continue working.

"Wood working is basically therapy for me, and it's one of those things where you can turn around and lose yourself in the shed, and it's not going to affect anyone else. It just gives you piece of mind," he said.

Mr Ruddick then found the company of South Burnett's Men's Shed.

"I now come out to the shed, and have a cup of tea or coffee, and hang out at the workshop.

"At first, because I didn't have any projects to do, I felt that I wasn't progressing... So, I spoke to Eric and Tom from the Kingaroy Men's Shed, and I began making stools for the Bacon Festival," he said.

To help him do his best, Mr Ruddick has also received some special woodworking equipment.

"I've been fortunate to avail myself of quite a few items from the QBA, the Queensland Blind Association, to help me promote what I'm doing.

"I've got a click rule that helps me instead of a tape measure. I've got it in such a way that it can help me measure things up to a metre. I've got a perpendicular pen and things like that.

"Since moving in, my son-in-law has given me half his shed, and so I've got quite a fair bit of gear there, too," he said.

Attending the Nanango Men's Shed on Mondays, the Kingaroy Woodcrafters on Tuesdays, and the Kingaroy Men's Shed on Wednesdays, it seems Mr Ruddick may have his hands full, but he doesn't mind.

"It's been a blessing in disguise. Being able to come and participate with these groups, where I can ask without any fear or favour, and in turn get good results and gain companionship... it's great.

"I've had success with the three places I've been to, and it's something that I'm going to continue to do. If they have any other little projects that I can do for them, then I'll do it for them."

South Burnett

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