Remembering Don Forbes

THERE was sun, laughter and tears at Wingham Pre-school last Thursday when the Don Forbes Memorial Plaque was unveiled.

When Don's wife Robyn was overcome with emotion it was the tiny voice of young Jenna Harborow that broke through the silence, "I'll make you smile again," she said and cuddled up to Robyn on the timber chair made by Don. 

After the more formal part of the ceremony was concluded and the scones came out, a couple of young children called Robyn over to hear a song they wanted to perform for her.

The children were well aware that Robyn was sad, the loss of her beloved husband of more than 50 years at the end of 2013 still very fresh and raw.

In preparation for Robyn's visit they had made her a sunny boy doll to attract good weather and some even painted her pictures - a touching gesture of craft gifts for the wife of one of Wingham's most generous craftsmen. 

Don was the coordinator at the Wingham Men's Shed and had helped forge a special partnership between the two community organisations.

A retired cabinet maker, Don brought some very special skills to the men's shed that are sorely missed.

Acknowledged by his fellow shed men as someone who could turn his hand to anything, Don was also known for not being one to say no. Whatever anyone brought to the men's shed, Don was determined to mend and restore and help in any way he could.

He never drew up plans - he simply made items to the design in his head. One of the last projects Don worked on was the garden bench for the preschool and it is on this bench the memorial plaque, from XX Trophies, now resides.

The relationship between the preschool and the men's shed began four years ago when the educators decided they wanted a child sized picnic table for the garden. It was Don that educator Melinda Mitchell first spoke to and she remembers their chat well.

They discussed their ideas and Don and fellow volunteers set about building their first scaled down piece of furniture. It was a challenge they were happy to take on and that initial project led to others as well as regular excursions for the children.

The children loved their visits and soon dubbed the men's shed "the place where men drill holes."

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