Warmley Men’s Shed receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
Since 2017, Warmley Men’s Shed in South Gloucestershire has been working alongside UK registered charity Legs4Africa to put unwanted prosthetic legs to good use.
In the UK, approximately 5,000 prosthetic legs end up in landfills every year. Meanwhile, in Africa, 1.7 million amputees are in need of a limb to help them live independent lives. Thanks to this unique partnership between Warmley Men’s Shed and Legs4Africa, these statistics are starting to positively change.
Legs4Africa receives thousands of prosthetic legs a year from mobility centres and individuals across the UK. But before they are shipped to their new forever homes in sub-Saharan Africa, they are dismantled, and safety checked by volunteers from Warmley Men’s Shed. The devoted voluntary team, who are based at Kingswood Heritage Museum in Bristol, have dismantled and prepared an unbelievable 932 prosthetic legs.
Last month, their incredible contribution was recognised by royalty. In September the Lord-Lieutenant for Gloucestershire, Edward Gillespie OBE and Deputy Lieutenants Susie Hewson and Bernard Bernays OBE presented Warmley Men’s Shed with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS).
Phil Tunstall, Director of Legs4Africa, who attended the ceremony said:
“Seeing the Warmley Men’s Shed receive their Queens Award for Voluntary Service was a moving experience, and I was delighted to hear from the lieutenant that their work for Legs4Africa helped contribute to them receiving the award.
“They have been dismantling legs for us for around four years now. They are responsible for getting the useful mechanical parts out of old legs so we can send them to mobility centres in Africa to be repurposed. This facility offers a considerable amount of health benefits for amputees in sub-Saharan Africa, but it has also been extremely comforting to hear about the positive impact this project has had on some of the Men’s Shed members too.”
HM the Queen created the awards in 2002 in celebration of her Golden Jubilee with the purpose of recognising excellence in voluntary activities carried out by community groups. It is the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups. The men received a signed certificate from Her Majesty the Queen, and an English Crystal with the QAVS logo insignia.
This fantastic partnership between Legs4Africa and Warmley Men’s Shed was recognised by HM the Queen as it is not only helping to mobilise people with limb differences in sub-Saharan Africa, but it is also helping to reduce social isolation and increase access to emotional support for retired gentlemen in South Gloucestershire.
To learn more about Warmley Men’s Shed and how you can get involved please call Mervyn on 0117 960 5664. And if you would like to donate to Legs4Africa please visit www.legs4africa.org/legup. All donations will be doubled until 24th December 2021, as part of their new match funded campaign, Leg Up.
For media enquiries please contact Sam on [email protected].
Notes to editor
Legs4Africa is a registered charity (charity number 1158697) based in Bristol in the UK. The charity was founded in 2013 by Tom Williams after his trip to The Gambia. Tom was introduced to a gentleman who needed a prosthetic leg urgently, and his search began. Once back in the UK, Tom was able to successfully source a leg for Paul. In the process, he discovered that access to affordable prosthetic legs was a problem faced by over a million people with limb differences on the African continent.
Since then, Legs4Africa has sent enough prosthetic leg parts to build or repair over 9,500 limbs – working with hospitals in the UK, the USA, Canada, France and Australia, with further opportunities arising across Europe. The charity collects used prosthetic legs, which under current European Union law, cannot be re-used in the United Kingdom.
The prosthetic legs are then shipped to African countries such as The Gambia, Ghana and Uganda, where they can be modified for, and used by people with limb differences. Alongside this recycling programme, Legs4Africa works closely with in-country partners to improve services, create opportunities and ensure amputees have everything they need in order to live independent lives.
Warmley Men’s Shed
Warmley Men’s Shed is a group that aims to provide an exciting opportunity for men (and women) to work in wood and other materials on their own projects, using the workshop and tools belonging to the Museum. Members can also create and repair mechanical items in the workshop.
The concept was initiated in the UK by the charity AgeUK, but is now an independently run organisation. It has some 250 branches in the UK, with 90 new groups in the process of forming. There are two established branches in the Bristol area.
Mervyn Bishop, one the new group’s organisers , said: “What we seek to do is to provide a safe and friendly atmosphere where people can work – on their own or with others – on projects of their own choosing and at their own pace.”
The group is meeting at Kingswood Heritage Museum on Thursday mornings from 3 March, starting at 9.30 am. Other sessions will be added as more members join.