Wheelchair Woodworking #3: Time to further move on

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Blog entry by Jamie Speirs posted 11-18-2010 12:32 PM 1616 reads 1 time favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Time to move on. Part 3 of Wheelchair Woodworking series Part 4: Woman's Work »

Well, thanks for all the nice replies.
When he started coming here it was always in the company of a carer or the title of support worker. This was a strange set up, whenever we spoke to him he would look at the floor and wait for the carer to answer. This we soon solved, Gordon (my right hand) took the carer to one side and taught them to turn.
This gave me the opportunity to work one on one. So begun the making shavings. He must have made garden dibbers and spurtle’s for everyone that he knew or had ever met. We also managed to talk about long term plans and where he wanted to go with his woodworking.
After about 2 months, he announced that he no longer wanted a carer to accompany him. So we arranged a shadow to stay in the distance for safety. It all went great and his liberation begun.
Travel for him seemed to be his main goal, so woodworking shows timber buying. In fact anything that meant going out for the day. He made all his families presents and random gifts for strangers. He could teach anyone about giving.
The one role he took to with gusto was shop safety. He took this as a personal mission and no one was safe for getting pulled up for not using the correct safety equipment. Norm would be proud of him. It has been a great experience. I think I may have taken him as a wee brother. He now has a job dealing with the public, wow. My wife Shirley has just moved to the local hospital and that is where he will be working. So we are all still very much in touch. I hope he finds his next goal. Finding a partner. I know that I will hear come the time. I’m an old romantic as well. 
During this period many others have come and gone. Normally about 3 months being normal. It is a great way of getting folks self confidence up.
We have had a fair few professionals around observing what we do. They think we are doing something right. We think we just go about things in a normal way. Tea Breaks & time keeping are major parts of our day and we keep set times. I’ve been told that this is good practice. It creates security.
Since my accident 16 odd years ago, I’ve had my shop open to folk that have an interest in woodworking, mainly wood turning though. There have been many wonderful people. I’ve learned so much from these folk. I’ve had folk who are terminal, blind, cerebral palsy amputees the list could go on.

Some of these goodbyes have been sad, the one person was in his 40’s and was a professor. He had terminal cancer and his parting words always “I’ll see you next week if I’m still around.” Well one week he was not around. He came to me as he had always wanted to do woodwork and had always put it off. So he had decided that he would have enough time do woodturning. So his journey began. He just loved it, he went home did his homework. He came every week with his latest creations like a wee boy showing his Dad. He had asked me early on about wanting to learn to sharpen his own chisels. I told him that it can take a time or the expensive route of buying a system could be taught in a morning. He said, “whats Money, you cant buy time”. That will always stick with me.

I’ll put up some wonderful stories not at all sad, if there is interest.
It will also include what “I” get from it.

Jamie in a Sunny but Chilly Scotland

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

20 comments so far

View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3455 days

#1 posted 11-18-2010 12:54 PM

Jamie, Funny, I had a feeling when I first “met” you here on LJ’s and then reading your comments to posts, that there was much more to you that was obvious. I’m proud to know you and look forward to more stories of your experiences.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2832 days

#2 posted 11-18-2010 01:00 PM

You are such a sweetie! You know Jamie- I taught special education for what feels like a million years- and I always say the greatest compliment any teacher could ever have comes when their student outgrows them and moves along to the next teacher who can better meet their needs. So this young man has gained confidence and skills and his world was opened- literally the doors have been flung open. For him the doors of the house, the bus, the shop, the store, the airport, the internet, and now the doors of the hospital have been opened when before all were closed. And yes, very often as teachers, we learn and receive more from our students than we could ever repay. So now my Scotsman, what are “dibbers and spurtle’s?” ;)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3427 days

#3 posted 11-18-2010 01:38 PM

Very touching, Jamie.
You are a good person. This is what we need in the world… more kindness, caring and patience with each other.
Whatever we do comes back to us hundredfold. Often we learn more from some of our students than we can ever teach them.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2775 days

#4 posted 11-18-2010 01:48 PM

A Spurtle’s what a good Scot uses to stir his oatmeal so it dosen’t stick to the pot, a wooden stirrrrr stick.. Dibber I have seen used to refer to a tool for making the hole in the ground for planting seedlings ?

(aww, Jaimie you may have just started a new competition..who can make the most orrrriginal Spurtle !)

And all I can add to the comments..keep up the good work..the boys and the men and all need you.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2832 days

#5 posted 11-18-2010 02:03 PM

I agree- it is time for a spurtle challenge.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2877 days

#6 posted 11-18-2010 02:29 PM

Thanks for sharing this Jamie, it is amazing the transformation that can happen to someone when they feel like they can be useful and creative.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4155 days

#7 posted 11-18-2010 03:32 PM

this past year a common thread has wound its way through my life: We have to tell our stories.
It is through our stories that the Wisdom is passed along to others and to the next generations. It is through our stories that we learn about true heroism, inspiration and the “right”.

Thank you for sharing your story – or I should say “stories” as I hope we shall be hearing many, many more.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View chrisstef's profile


17378 posts in 3001 days

#8 posted 11-18-2010 04:06 PM


You my friend are what IS RIGHT in this world. With all the greed and crazy in this world you have shown that people still have heart. Your blog is inspirational, your attitude and actions admirable. Your stories need to be heard, keep em coming!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Hopdevil's profile


219 posts in 3080 days

#9 posted 11-18-2010 04:31 PM

I know you feel your students inspire you, but WOW, do you inspire us. Thank you so much for helping make this world a better place.

-- Buzz ---- Of all the things I have ever lost, I miss my mind the most.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3079 days

#10 posted 11-18-2010 05:07 PM

OK Jamie, Rivergirl has issued a spurtle challenge, I am sure we can eliminate that round thing the English call
a spurtle stick, but then we are left with all the other shapes, curved to fit certain pans, ones with holes in
them to help provide a better mixing of materials and a few other shapes. Since you are the Expert, and I
am fairly certain no one will disagree, could you provide us with some idea of what we should be making, I
am sure that Mafe will be able to provide some wonderful ideas for handles. We could even set a time limit
of two minutes to two years (would not want to be too vague here). Keep up the good work.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Vicki's profile


1099 posts in 3338 days

#11 posted 11-18-2010 06:40 PM

Hi Jamie,
Thank you so much for writing your blog and sharing your touching and inspiring stories. Please “put up” some more as time allows.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3101 days

#12 posted 11-18-2010 06:50 PM

Giving always brings joy to the giver. But in this situation, you have a two street going. But as much joy as you receive, this young man has received much more from you. You have given him the knowledge to live life and the courage to step up and do it. Bless you Sir.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#13 posted 11-18-2010 06:55 PM

Jamie thank´s for sharing theese stories with us
you most bee one hell of a teacher and inspirator
that got the luck to learn to know you and meet you :-)

take care

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3012 days

#14 posted 11-18-2010 07:18 PM

I agree with the wonderful stories(if you could call actual happenings stories) you are telling and would love to hear more.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Rob200's profile


313 posts in 3163 days

#15 posted 11-18-2010 07:19 PM

Jamie way to go it is like god gives you wings when you help others like will it hard to say what it like you have to just do it and find out for your self

-- Robert Laddusaw and no I am not smarter then a fifth grader ( and no I canot spell so if it is a problem don't read it ))

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