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Cricket bat art boosts Brett Wiltshire’s confidence and self-esteem at his local man’s barn




When Brett Wiltshire was asked by his local barn to turn old cricket bats into works of art, he wasn’t sure he was up to the challenge.

But two batslaters, Mr Wiltshire, who is living with kidney failure, says the project has boosted his self-esteem and confidence.

When the charity Where there’s a Willchallenged cast men’s sheds across Australia to get members to turn an old cricket bat into a work of art, the Rutherglen Community Men’s Shed was eager to get involved.

Through cricket bat art exhibitions, Where There’s a Will raises awareness and funds to support people with disabilities.

Brett Wiltshire stands on the workbench and lowers an old cricket bat as Rutherglen Men's Shed President Ern Walder looks on
Mr Wiltshire, with Ern Walder, levels and cleans the old bats before they are transformed.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Allison Jess)

Ern Walder, chairman of the North-East Victoria group, said Rutherglen wanted to be involved in the project because men’s sheds were about “health, wellbeing and taking care of each other”.

“She [Where there’s a Will] asked groups that have someone with a disability or challenge to refurbish and paint an old bat.”

All completed bats will be auctioned or sold later this year with funds raised for Where’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 living with an autism spectrum disorder and fond of cricket.

“To give him some therapy, he started doing cricket bats, and we were challenged to find someone in our groups who would be willing to do this.”

Mr Walder said he had spoken to member MrWiltshire about taking up the challenge.

Mr Wiltshire, who has had kidney or kidney failure for over 40 years and lives with chronic pain, said he was now happy to be involved.

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

The result is two bats representing the local Rutherglen community.

Two painted cricket bats sit upright on a workbench in a gentlemen's barn
The finished cricket bats pay tribute to Rutherglen’s wine industry and gold mining history.(ABC Goulburn Murray: Allison Jess)

Mr Wiltshire said he was “fired up” by the completed bats, which were attributed to the local wine industry and Rutherglen’s gold mining history.

“A bat has vine leaves and a bottle of red on it. The gold mine contains figurines made of curved nails,” he said.

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

“He is no longer sure of himself and how to do anything to produce these bats,” said Mr. Walder.

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

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




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