Cricket-bat art boosts confidence, self-esteem for Brett Wiltshire at his local men’s shed

When Brett Wiltshire was asked to turn old cricket bats into pieces of art by his local men’s shed, he wasn’t sure if he was up to the challenge.

But two bats later, Mr. Wiltshire, who lives with renal failure, says the project has boosted his self-esteem and confidence.

When the charity organization Where there’s a Will challenged men’s sheds across Australia to get members to turn an old cricket bat into a piece of art, the Rutherglen Community Men’s Shed was keen to take part.

Through cricket-bat art exhibitions, Where there’s a Will raises awareness and funds to support people living with a disability.

Mr. Wiltshire, with Ern Walder, levels out and cleans the old bats before they are transformed.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Allison Jess)

Ern Walder, president of the north-east Victoria group, said Rutherglen wanted to be involved in the project because men’s sheds were about “health, well-being and looking after one another”.

“They [Where there’s a Will] asked groups that have someone with a disability or challenges to be involved in refurbishing and painting an old bat.”

All completed bats will be auctioned or sold later this year with funds raised supporting Where’s there’s a Will.

Three old cricket bats sit on a dusty workbench
The Rutherglen Men’s Shed is happy to take old cricket bats for the art project.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Allison Jess)

Mr Walder said the charity was named after Will Clarke, a young man who lives with autism spectrum disorder and loves cricket.

“To give him some therapy, he started doing up cricket bats, and we were issued that challenge to find someone in our groups who would like to do this.”

Mr. Walder said he spoke to member Mr. Wiltshire about taking on the challenge.

Mr. Wiltshire, who has had renal or kidney failure for more than 40 years and lives with chronic pain, said he was now glad he got involved.

His confidence grew as he worked on the project alongside Albury-based artist Robyn Patterson-Elliot.

The result has been two bats that represent the local Rutherglen community.

Two painted cricket bats sit upright on a work bench in a men's shed
The finished cricket bats pay homage to Rutherglen’s wine industry and gold mining history.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Allison Jess)

Mr Wiltshire said he was “stoked” with the completed bats, which were a tribute to the local wine industry and the gold mining history of Rutherglen.

“One bat has vine leaves and a bottle of red on it. The gold mining one includes figurines made from bent nails,” he said.

Mr Walder said it had been a fantastic journey for Mr Wiltshire.

“He has gone from not being sure of himself and how to do something to producing these bats,” Mr. Walder said.

“He thinks about what he wants to do, and he puts it all together, which has given him another level of accomplishment.”

A dozen members of the Rutheglen Men's Shed stood around a work table in a shed.
The Rutherglen Community Men’s Shed has about 20 members and has been around for more than 10 years.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Allison Jess)

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