Along with JoJo Wood, we are lucky enough to be joined on our journey by these wonderful people. They will be working in their regions, with others in their area, and helping us use craft to help with peoples mental health, their physical health, and use craft to make a positive change.
David Edwards, West Midlands
As a result of work pressures in late 2017 my partially filled ‘mental health bucket’ over flowed resulting in being signed off from work for 6 months with a diagnosis of anxiety.
During my phased return I was subjected to a situation driven by the Managing Director on the subject of mental health awareness which showed little/no awareness and I felt it was directed towards my condition leaving me humiliated and being diagnosed with Chronic Anxiety Disorder, Myoclonus, anxiety driven stamma, 18 months off work and, ultimately, resulted in being medically severed in July 2019.
Medication and CBT counselling made a small dent in my mental state but It wasn’t until I rediscovered whittling, from my Scouting days, that things changed.
I found carving wood absorbing and whilst I was doing it all other aspects of life disappeared. The end product wasn’t any good as I had no real idea of what I wanted to carve; so I hit the internet for inspiration. There I found a new world of spoons, treen, bowls, kuksas and the whole sloyd community. I instantly ordered a hook knife to enable me to try to carve my first spoon.
With the aid of newly acquired hook knife, I began my spoon carving journey. With the aid of many YouTube videos and unsuccessful attempts, I was starting to get somewhere. More importantly, I felt less anxious whilst I was doing it and for an increasing period after each carving session – It became about the journey and not the destination.
Finding Spoonfest in 2019 enabled me to embed myself in a world of like minded individuals, many with a similar life journey, and provided me with my first face-to-face tuition. The journey continued with a new vigour and its effects were lasting longer, relieving me of more and more of my anxiety.
I don’t know how I found Pathcarvers, but I am so glad I did. Finding out that they had a weekly carving club gave me a weekly goal to achieve and be in a community: not only of those with a love of carving wood but those with similar life experiences.
As a result of Pathcarvers I have explored many different avenues of green wood carving, including building my own shave horse and pole lathe. Most importantly, the self care and community has aided me to stabilise my mental health to a point where I could commit myself to the process of applying for jobs and going to interviews.
A long time ago I thought that the stigma of male mental health needed readdressing and would be very open about my condition. I found it easy to link conversations about carving to my mental health condition and vice versa. As a result, others have become more open about their mental health and some have come to terms that they too have a mental health condition & sort help for their issues.
The forum of Pathcarvers carving club enabled me to strengthen my mental health toolbox, regain employment and find something I really enjoy doing. These simple reasons are why I have accepted the offer of becoming a Pathcarvers trustee to aid the delivery of their good work to many more individuals experiencing a difficult path through life, and hopefully help them find the solace I have found.
Ida was born and brought up in Birmingham, with strong roots to her southern peasant Italian background spending most of summer holidays as a child in the family village there who only until a generation ago sustained themselves from the land.
Feeling the disconnection of the urban modern life, she has spent past 15 years on a reconnection journey, as a life and a work choice, to reconnect herself and others in the urban environment.
She started off initially in sustainable food, community orchards, and organic food growing in London, and worked on a London wide project to promote and help start, new community food growing projects, became an organic urban salad grower for Growing Communities in Hackney, learnt to scythe and teach scything. Her main work then became the transformation and management of an overgrown unused garden at the Castle Climbing Centre to create a one acre permaculture garden supplying the cafe, organising seasonal nature learning and celebration events, teaching apprentices and volunteers.
It was here near the start of the garden creation 12 years ago, where after cutting down a few self seeded sycamore trees to create an edible food forest she felt inspired to make us of this wood by her woodwork teacher friend Tom Trimmins, and learnt to make her first mallet, then spatula, then spoon…
then finding her way up to the very first Spoonfest where she first met Jojo and was very inspired by great wood craft skills a young woman can teach and inspire others to do, and learnt from many of the other great carving teachers there for the first few years of the festival.
Her reconnection journey took her to learn more ways of nature connection and inspiring others and several years ago trained further in facilitation and outdoor leadership with Wildwise in Devon on both year long courses – “Call of the Wild” and “Tending the Green Fire” and then learning more re-wilding and ancestral practical skills of crafting and hunter gathering on The Old Way immersion camp, where she stayed to work managing the hearth for two years. Over the past several years she’s been facilitating nature connection and bushcraft to communities in the urban environment as well as camps across the country. As well as inspiring connection to trees, plants, and food foraging she enjoys bringing playful ways to connect to the natural world with natural movement, play and sensory awareness to inspire a more embodied connection to what makes us fully human and fulfil our human potential and blueprint. She always respects that using our hands and reconnecting to crafts is a great part of this potential.
For the 2022 season, she returned to Birmingham for first time in a while and working for the RSPB on a project with the Princes Trust, connecting young urban unemployed adults to nature, outdoor skills and nature conservation so to get confidence and go into employment in this field. It has been great for her to reconnect with Jojo and Sean and Pathcarvers in Birmingham.
Mike Sattersthwaite, West Midlands
Mike is a hugely skilled woodworker and craftsperson who is lending his expertise and ideas in bringing Pathcarvers to more people here with us in Birmingham
Sean Tillett, Kent
I started carving spoons over a decade ago, coming to this from an outdoor/Bushcraft background, spending years carving around a camp fire.
I started to bring the woods home when life stopped me being able to get to the woods.Now I teach in person and online under the name STiR Woodcraft.
I have also worked for a decade in a therapeutic care home, and before that as a community support worker helping build sustainable local community groups.
Sarah Waters, West Midlands
From growing up on the Hundred Acre Wood to being an avid Bushcrafter, Sarah has enjoyed the outdoors and crafting all her life.
Through her career in nursing, and her own mental health journey following a serious car accident more than 20 years ago, Sarah has found and promotes, ecotherapy for holistic health.