Saving The Starling

Petersfield Men’s Shed is really proud to have been featured in the Alton Herald on Thursday 13th June 2024.

The members of the men’s shed are helping to make 40 Starling boxes that will be installed on houses around Newton Valence. “The startling is one of England’s most romantic birds but is now on the list of endangered species as their population has plummeted by 53%”

Petersfield handymen ticking the right boxes to save treasured bird

By Paul Ferguson 

13th June 2024

Nick Broom and Rob Brailey of Petersfield Men’s Shed with the first batch of Starling nest boxes heading to Newton Valence. (Petersfield Men’s Shed)

A group of East Hampshire handymen is boxing clever in the bid to save a treasured bird from extinction.

The importance of saving the Starling is being hammered home by the Petersfield Men’s Shed as they’ve received an order for 40 nest boxes.

The custom-made boxes will be installed on houses around Newton Valence this autumn under the close supervision of ornithologist Dr Francis Buner.

It’s part of a plan by the Newton Valence Nature Group to create a “great new Starling murmuration” in the skies above the village between Selborne and the A32.

The Starling is one of England’s most romantic birds having inspired a Hans Holbein portrait, a Mozart Piano Concerto and a Tennyson poem.

But this treasured species is now on the IUCN Red List of endangered species as its population has plummeted by 53 per cent by 1995.

“In Newton Valence we are lucky to hear them ‘clapping their tiny castanets’ as they roost in our chimney pots,” said a spokesperson for the NVNG.

“We have a unique opportunity to create a new constellation in the skies above our parish, by providing the nest boxes our endangered Starlings need to safely raise their broods year after year.”

The village is fast becoming one of the county’s most ecologically important areas as efforts to protect and boost the toad population have also been recognised.

Its pond has been designed a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in recognition of its significant toad population by the Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre.

Hullam Lane – an ancient sunken lane and an important toad migration route – has also been designated a Road Verge of Ecological Importance by the same group.

The designations will help the efforts of Toad Patrol, working alongside the pond committee, to protect and enhance the habitat for biodiversity.


Accessible Backgammon Boards

Stephen Allberry from Petersfield Men’s Shed used his skill to construct two new Accessible Backgammon Boards for the Petersfield u3a.

These Backgammon Boards were specifically designed to make the game accessible to players who are visually, or dexterity challenged. The board incorporates colour contrasted zones (replacing the traditional points) to allow the counters to stand out against the background, and ridges between zones to prevent accidental knocking of counters between zones. Note also the use of an iPad to automatically generate random dice throws. One of these boards has been trialled over a few weeks and has been welcomed by players who are novices, experienced, able bodied and most importantly the target audience those with visual or dexterity issues.

Novices are welcome to contact the u3a to become a member and then receive instruction on how to play this ancient game of skill and luck. They meet every Monday at 10am, attending every week is not expected. Contact the Backgammon Group on the Petersfield u3a website:


Pilot Cookery Class

On Friday the 19th January 2024, we ran a pilot cookery class to teach some basic cookery skills.

In conjunction with local charities Age Concern and Winton House, five men (including John Liddall and Roland Goodbody from the Men’s Shed) prepared spaghetti bolognaise together and then enjoyed an early supper with a well-earned glass of red wine.

Supported by Winton House volunteer cooks, Marion and Jenny with Steven, the 5 participants were taken through the recipe steps stage by stage, resulting in a delicious meal enjoyed by all.

We plan to run more classes, now we know the format works and the facilities at Winton House can cope. The support and input by everyone at Winton House has made this possible, proving collaboration really works to benefit local people.


Member Update – August 23

Welcome to the second PMS Latest News. Its aim is to ensure all PMS members are up to date with the workings of the management committee, news from individual activity groups, future events and general news from members themselves. So, if you would like to include a note in future editions, please drop me an email.


Unfortunately, this month’s News starts with a whinge. I think every member will agree that the effort, input, and results to get us this far of mostly those on the management committee, Trustees and a few wonderful members has been amazing. However, we cannot keep relying on these few to keep the Shed operational, forward thinking and vibrant for all of us to enjoy.

We have nearly 90 members and not only do we need more members to volunteer some time and effort for vital aspects of the Shed, but we would also like to see more of you simply coming along. We are open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm and some Wednesday evenings and starting next week, Saturdays from 10am to 1pm, so plenty of opportunities to visit.

This is “your” Shed, please help and support it.

We Need You!

Currently, we are looking for member volunteers to take on the Membership Secretary role, Social Organiser and Site Manager.

The Membership Secretary is the first contact if someone wants to join, mostly by email. They must be organised and a good record keeper using a small, secure data base. There is no requirement to join the MC or be a Trustee so probably involves no more than a few hours a week maximum.

The Social Organiser will suggest, and lead organise and publicise social events, visits, talks, etc. They are not expected to do this on their own but with each event having a small team of members who will “make it happen”. Suggestions so far are a pizza lunch, curry night, walks, BBQ, invite the partners, trips to places of interest and museums, interesting speakers, film afternoon, etc, etc. You must be organised, sociable and able to get things done. Again, no requirement to join the MC or be a Trustee.

The Site Manager will ensure the Shed is clean, tidy and any maintenance issues are raised with the MC. Through the various workshop leaders, rostered Shed Supervisors and MC members, they will organise various working groups from time to time to ensure the Shed is always presentable and functioning as it should. A local, physical on-site presence will be essential. Again, no requirement to join the MC or be a Trustee.

If you wish to discuss any of the above roles, please email me.

Garden Group

Last month, I asked members interested in gardening to email me. To say I was underwhelmed is an understatement. Therefore, I have decided that I will start by asking if any members wish to join me on Friday the 18th August at 10am (as long as it’s not raining), with gloves and their favourite garden tools, we shall spend at least the morning gardening. And bring a packed lunch so we can sit in the garden to enjoy our labours.

The great news is that the Town Council has awarded us a £750 grant which the MC has decided will go towards the garden, so over lunch, we can discuss design plans for the raised beds and spend the grant. What fun!

Metal Working Shed

The “Small” Shed now has its electrics and is ready to be converted to metal work. Nick, Malcolm and Martin are now working on plans to equip it ready for operation. If there are avid metal workers who wish to input, please contact them directly.

Bike Shed

The Bike Shed now has its electrics and the Cycle Reclamation Group regularly meets on Wednesday mornings. If interested please drop in and speak to Michael, Mark or any of the group.

Community Projects

We are now starting to receive a steady stream of community project requests, from bat boxes in the South Downs, shelving at the Scot Hut and flower boxes for Petersfield in Bloom to the Physic Garden back gate. We have just received a request to erect a garden shed for a local sheltered housing which will require a cement base. As it’s a big job, before we respond and possibly agree to this request, we shall need confirmed volunteers who have the skills and time; please email me if you have.

Sale of spare tools

We still have some surplus tools for members to buy, so when you are next at the Shed, please take a look. Some are brand new, and all are PAT tested. All proceeds will go towards our future running costs.

Stall Day

We shall have a stall at the PECAN Boot Sale on the Avenue Playing Field on Sunday 20th August. Nick and Peter are organising, but any additional volunteer helpers will be welcome.

We also plan to set up a stall at the back gates to the Shed on Sunday 27th August, which is Petersfield Festival Weekend. Again, volunteer helpers please.

And don’t forget…

  • The guitar group meet on Friday mornings (contact Ray Vogt).

I hope you enjoyed this, second Latest News. If you want to put a note in future editions or are interested in starting an interest group, please email me. And please consider taking an active role and join in the various groups and activities mentioned above. The Shed will only work with everyone doing their bit.

Steven Watts


[email protected]


Now open Saturdays 10am-1pm

We’re pleased to announce that from Saturday 5th August we will be open from 10am until 1pm.

Please come along and meet fellow members and perhaps gain a new interest, join a working group, or even just to drop in for a chat and a tea or coffee.


Member Update – July 2023

Welcome to PMS Latest News, our new regular (at least quarterly and hopefully monthly) communication emailed out to all members and included on the web site. Its aim is to ensure all PMS members are up to date with the workings of the management committee, news from individual activity groups, future events and general news from members themselves. So, if you would like to include a note in future editions, please drop me an email.

Vice Chairman
I am delighted to confirm that Nick Broom has been appointed Vice Chairman. Nick will work alongside me until the AGM in May/June 2024 and then take over as Chairman, when I step down. Most of you will know Nick through the Shed induction and training programs he has run to keep us all safe. His work in developing the woodworking shed should also be recognised as well as his huge contribution to the Shed overall. I know he will lead us well in the future.

Friday morning social
When we first opened, we held a purely social morning every Friday, simply to get to know each other. Whilst developing each of the activities and sorting all the many generous donations has been a priority of late (and still is), with now over 90 members, we would like to re-introduce the Friday morning social. So, if you fancy just dropping in for a chat and a coffee, please come along on Friday mornings. Come and meet fellow members and perhaps gain a new interest or join a working group.

Sale of spare tools
We have received many, very generous donations of tools and equipment, some of which are surplus to our requirements. These are being set aside for members to buy, so when you are next at the Shed please take a look, some are brand new! All proceeds will go towards our future running costs.

Social Events
We would like to organise a program of member social events throughout the year such as picnics, BBQs, walks, visits to places of interest, talks, etc, etc. We need a volunteer member to plan and organise them: could this be you? Please email me to chat through your and the committee’s thoughts.

Working Party Day
As I mentioned, we are still sorting and tidying the site to clear spaces for new activities such as the metal working, etc. The committee has set aside Friday the 21st July (10am to 4pm) as the first Working Party Day. There will be gardening, cleaning, sorting, and tidying activities to help with, plus we intend to have a pizza break at lunch time (if we can work the new donated pizza oven?!!!).
Please come along with your sleeves rolled up and a pair of gloves and have fun working alongside your fellow members.

Stall Day
We have now built an impressive stock of bird boxes, trugs and reclaimed items, as well as fettled cycles and tools for general sale and want to set up a regular stall at the back gates to the car park. The most public “foot fall” is on the Wednesday market day, so we are looking for member volunteers to “man” the stall. We have a gazebo and benches to set up a good stall and all items have been priced, so the only needs are to learn the easy card payment system, how to deal with cash and to hone your “selling” skills. It’s also a great way to promote the Shed and meet people.
We shall also start to attend more local events with our Stall such the festivals in the town and on the Avenue.
Please email me to volunteer and we shall set up a small selling team.

Garden Group
Some members have expressed a wish to join a garden group to sort the lawns, pond and gardens, create raised beds for growing veg and a provide a wildlife area. However, we have not found anyone to lead and organise the group. So, if you are interested in gardening, please email me so we can get the group digging.

I hope you enjoyed this, first Latest News. If you want to put a note in future editions, please email me. And please join in the various groups and activities mentioned above. The Shed will only work with everyone doing their bit.

Steven Watts
[email protected]


Bike Shed Now Open

We will meet on Wednesdays from 10am, the Bike Shed will be also be available to Petersfield Men’s Shed Members from 10am to 4pm Mon to Friday.

Upcycle and help fix donated bikes, we hope to pass many of them on to local community that are in need, but also to Ukrainian refugees.

Please come along and “Tinker” learn how to maintain your own bicycles, we have cycle stands and all the tools and help you will need.

You are welcome to bring your own bikes for a service or even if it is just a clean-up and or to spend fun time with like-minded cycle enthusiasts.

Note the Bike Shed is for members use only and is not open to the general public for repairs.

News Uncategorised

Member Update – May 2023

We had thought of holding a bbq on Friday the 5th May but unfortunately, we are having to cancel this but hopefully we shall hold one in the summer.

Please save the date to attend our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 7th June at 2pm at the Half Moon pub in Sheet. Following on from the AGM we shall hold a Members’ Open Meeting and Q&A; an agenda will be posted out nearer the date. We also want to share the new opportunities and possibilities the Shed now offers; do please come along if you can.

I have now served 3 years as your chairman and feel it is time for another member to take over from me to bring fresh ideas for the next stage of the Shed’s development. Therefore, I have advised the management committee that I shall stand down in May 2024. This gives plenty of time for a member to work alongside me and the management committee (as vice-chairman) to ensure a smooth hand-over. I have prepared a one-page brief of what I believe the role is but vitally my successor, with the management committee should make the role their own.
Please consider this and if interested, email or phone me for a no obligation chat. It’s not that demanding and has been great fun!
[email protected]
07584 229656

We are now over 60 members and as you know, the Shed is now open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. A Shed Supervisor is on hand at all times for advice and guidance. The wood-working shed is fully operational (for your own or Shed projects), Trev has started the gardening group, we are about to start sorting all the equipment and tool donations currently stored in the future metal-working shed, Ray has started a guitar group on Friday mornings, the bike group has a bike shed to build as a home to mend and refurbish bikes, Rob has creatively stated up-cycling all sorts, and we have started making bird boxes, bug hotels, coat hooks and garden trugs for sale and for community displays.
Plenty for members to get involved with or simply socialise and much more to come; just come along.

Steven Watts

News Workshop

Friday Guitar Playing Workshop

Do you fancy having a go at playing guitar, jamming with other guitar players or simply watching others play?

Come along every Friday morning

Beginner session at 10.30 

followed by a 

Jamming session at 11.30

Ray Vogt is happy to guide you along and jam with other guitar players.
He will also bring a small session amp.

You will need to bring your own guitar and any song sheets you want to play.

You can contact Ray on [email protected] to discuss any ideas or music suggestions you may have.

Who knows – maybe we’ll get a Petersfield Men’s Shed band together!


Member Update – March 2023

  • The Open Day was a resounding success with over 100 visitors, the rain stayed away, and we also attracted 15 new members. My thanks to everyone who contributed towards the event.
  • We are now open every day, Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm. The wood shop is fully operational for your own projects, and we are going to start birdbox and other workshops soon. The only requirement before using is that you must have received training for the general area and each specific piece of equipment; to arrange email Nick at [email protected]
  • Mike Bookham has set up an IT and Electronics team to develop both the upstairs IT and Craft rooms and launch workshop sessions. Watch this space.
  • A Gardening Group is in full swing developing the grounds.
  • Ray hopes to start a guitar playing group, contact Ray at [email protected] if interested.
  • As soon as we have storage, we will empty the small shed and bring together a team interested in developing and equipping the metal shop.
  • We are waiting to receive a donated shed to create the bike shop. Michael Cowen has already gathered a sizable team who will fettle bikes to sell or donate to charities.
  • Murray Whewell has taken over as Secretary from Neil Slatter and joins the MC.
  • We are thinking of having a BBQ for members and partners and suggested date is early evening on Friday 5th May, just before the coronation weekend. We’ll provide the food, and you bring your own drink. If you are keen, please email me at [email protected] and confirm one or two places.
  • Our AGM will be taking place in late May, probably at the Half Moon. TBC.
  • Talking of socials, the management committee (MC) would like to appoint a member to take on a Social Secretary role. This person would work with the MC to organise future social gatherings like the BBQ above, arrange trips and visits to local places of interest, invite members, sort tickets and payments and possibly arrange transport. The scope of this role is wide and just needs an enthusiastic member, if interested please email me at [email protected]
  • If you have other interests that we are not yet discussing, please drop me an email [email protected] with your ideas; we are so lucky to have very flexible premises which can accommodate a wide range of activities. Like Ray above, the MC are very supportive to include all member interests where we can.
  • Lastly, as per our constitution, I have given the MC notice that, after 3 years as Chair, I will step down in a year’s time at the AGM in May 2024. I have requested expressions of interest from the MC members to take on a Vice-Chair role over the next year to allow a smooth transition. I will keep you posted of progress.

I am delighted how we have progressed so far and with all members continued input we shall continue to develop and expand – thank you to everyone for your support.

Steven Watts, Chairman