Not all heroes wear capes.
Residents of Marymount Hospice in Cork have been saluting personal heroes as part of a Men’s Shed Heroes’ Project.
Men’s Shed is a community-based, non-commercial organisation open to all men — giving them a safe, friendly, and inclusive environment where they can meet and work on projects at their own pace.
As part of the Men’s Shed Project, artist Tom Weld has been meeting male residents of Marymount Hospice every week, to create art and to chat.
Mr Weld, who has worked previously with hospices in England, started the “Our Heroes” project after securing funding from Cork County Council. As part of the project, the residents meet to work on art together; creating sculptures, drawings and collages based around the theme of “heroes”.
The residents were asked to think about heroes they have, or had over the years. In early sessions the men were asked to think about a time in their lives where they might have felt like a hero, Mr Weld says.
“At this stage in one’s life if there is an opportunity to look at that, it’s a nice thing and possibly quite helpful. The quality of this project is almost unquantifiable, in terms of how it has touched the spirits of the men involved,” said Jennifer Doody, acting activities manager at Marymount.
Marymount resident Ken Gloster, from Carrigaline, said: “It’s a very good project, this whole thing from an artist point of view. I never thought too much about art as something to do, but I’ve changed my mind over the last few months.”
Mr Gloster says the group work has become an outing for residents: “It’s very important that they be kept in the swim, to see different faces.”
Six men attend the weekly sessions, with Mr Weld also working with five other male residents on a one-to-one basis.
Mr Weld, who started at Marymount as a volunteer four years ago, has been collecting conversations from the sessions since the project began in April. This material may become part of an exhibition or publication, he says.
“I hope it will tell us something about the nature of hope. It will be a surprise to people that something like this could be generated in this setting. I really like the apparent contradiction, to come to a hospice to find hope. Some people might think that was a funny thing to do,” he said.
However, for those familiar with the hospice setting, it’s not such a strange idea, he said.
Ms Doody added: “The gathering of the group has created awareness for us as a team of the positive impact the project is having on the participating residents.
“This project has given these gentlemen the opportunity to enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures again — social connection.”
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