Something delicious is coming to Bill Richardson Transport World – and it’s the result of a collaboration with a group dedicated to giving Southland men a purpose.
Bill Richardson Transport World will open its newest exhibit, a custom-built Chocolate Room featuring memorabilia from the Cadbury’s factory in Dunedin, on World Chocolate Day this Sunday 7 July.
The room has been built by volunteer group MENZSHED Invercargill. MENZSHED allows men to learn new skills, ply their trades, and meet new people.
Transport World director Jocelyn O’Donnell says it was fantastic to support the group and tap into the expertise they offered.
“They have worked so hard on the Chocolate Room and it shows. I can’t wait to see it finished. I’m sure our visitors will love the feeling of whimsy it is going to bring to our collection,” she says.
MENZSHED Invercargill manager Peter Bailey says the build – the biggest and most labour-intensive task the group has tackled – has been both a challenge and lots of fun.
“It’s been a real honour to work with Joc. She’s so creative and she’s done a wonderful job here, so that was really inspiring,” he says.
The design and ideas process for the room began in late 2018, with work itself starting in January.
Handcrafted elements made by the members include cabinetry and display shelving for memorabilia, a couch and several ‘dumptys’, plaster of paris chocolates using moulds from the Cadbury factory, and a special surprise when you look up. The ceiling “caused a few anxious moments” as the polystyrene it is made from bruised incredibly easily, Bailey says.
About 14 volunteers have been involved in the build, Bailey says.
Many previously worked in trades such as plumbing, engineering or building while others were enthusiasts – but all brought something to the table.
“We’ve got a guy in a wheelchair, and he came in on his mobility scooter and painted all of the wee chocolates by hand. Another one of the guys in there, he’s never done any furniture work before and he’s made the table. Some of the guys have never done any turning before, and they’ve had a go at that for the first time,” he says.
“It’s things like that, giving people a go, that we’re all about.”
He hoped visitors appreciated their hard work.
“I want them to just say ‘wow – who did this?”
MENZSHED Invercargill held its inaugural meeting in 2017 and now has about 28 members.
After finishing work on the Chocolate Room at Bill Richardson Transport World, the group will “potter around” on projects for awhile, before deciding what it would tackle next, Bailey says.
The Chocolate Room job would probably remain its largest task, as they simply did not have the space at their shed on Forth St to work on projects of that scale, he says.
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