Clubs join forces to battle the Black Dog

Clubs join forces to battle the Black Dog

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Ulysses Club’s Keith Wellfare, Reece Whitby MLA and SJ Men’s Shed’s Barry Johns.

The tireless blokes at the Serpentine Jarrahdale Men’s Shed had their big blue caravan out on Saturday to support this year’s Black Dog Ride, to raise funds and awareness for depression and mental health.
SJ Men’s Shed’s Ray Schmidt said they first got involved with Black Dog when they donated a custom-made charcuterie board for one of their raffles.
“It was a beautiful board and they auctioned it off,” Ray said.
“They told us we could apply for a grant through the Black Dog Foundation, which we did, and with that we bought our caravan, so every year we go down and get involved.
“This year we donated a clock we made and I think it got about $400, which isn’t much but it makes a difference,” he said.
This year’s ride from Baldivis was organised by the Ulysses Club, a social motorcycle club for over-40s whose motto is ‘Grow Old Disgracefully’.
Club member Keith Wellfare said they started the ride in 2016 after one of their members unexpectedly took his own life.
“We wanted to do something to remember him by and we thought we could start our own ride up here,” Keith said.
“We raise about $20,000 a year on average and the flow on effect of a ride like this is amazing,” he said.
Keith has struggled with the black dog of depression himself and said the ride has given members of the club the chance to talk about issues that would normally go unheard.
“It means people could talk about what they were experiencing,” said Keith, whose partner Joanne passed away 11 months ago after a battle with cancer.
“She was such a shining light of a person, when she did something it was 110 per cent – she was my rock,” he said.
“You go through grief and you just want to crawl into a hole, you want to step away from life.
“But I thought ‘it’s not what Jo would want’ so I got out there to spread the word, to try to help where I can.
“I have friends at Ulysses who have been diagnosed and normally they wouldn’t talk about it but they’re opening up and they’re getting great support from the branch.
“They’re very down-to-earth people, they still act normal, they still like to have a laugh.
“That’s why we like to support the Men’s Shed – you get around people who can talk, laugh and make things together, and it makes you feel worthwhile again,” he said.
Ray Schmidt said the SJ Men’s Shed has been growing steadily since its beginnings eight years ago.
“We started in an old dairy at the bottom of Jarrahdale Road with six members, now we have about 70 or 80,” Ray said.
“Anyone can join, you don’t have to be retired, and we changed the constitution to allow women in, too.
“We meet Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings and we just try to put back into the community.”