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Wife’s birthday gift wins national award

Wife’s birthday gift wins national award

Despite a brain tumour and a recent start to study, UCOL student Andrew Lynch has won bronze in a nationwide furniture making competition.

The 50-year-old won the prize in the furniture making category at the National Woodskills Festival over the weekend for a vanity table that he designed as a gift for his wife’s birthday.

The National Woodskills Festival 2008 was held in Kawerau from 11 – 14 September. It is a key event for woodcrafters from around the country, featuring woodworking competitions, displays, demonstrations, and an awards evening.

UCOL Furniture Lecturer Andy Halewood says “It’s a significant competition, and it is impressive that Andrew won at this level in his first year of study.”

Andrew worked on the piece last year in his spare workshop time, while doing the first year of the Diploma in Furniture Design and Making at UCOL.

“My wife’s only been able to have the table in the house for one night so far, because it’s been requested for show so much!” says Andrew, who is working on a matching stool for her.

“They’re both made out of a eucalyptus saligna hardwood, which has a beautiful pinkish sheen, and is inlaid with dark brown jarrah on the top. You could call it a contemporary take on a classical flavour - it’s quite graceful,” he says.

Andrew is a ‘born and bred’ local from Palmerston North. After 25 years tied to milking on his dairy farm, he decided the farm could run itself, and he was free to follow other interests. So he enrolled in the Furniture Design and Making programme at UCOL.

But after a year of study, and right before a lifetime trip to India, Andrew says he “had a little bit of a turn,” and an MRI scan discovered he had brain cancer. “That was really frustrating, coming at that point, as I had just found myself able to head in this new direction. So I skipped off to India for three weeks anyway, then came back to deal with the tumour.”

This year Andrew is taking a rest from the two-year programme while he has treatment, but can still be found in the UCOL wood workshop at least one day of the week. After his course of chemotherapy, he is hoping to complete the final year of the programme next year and, after 25 years of farming, be able to ply a new trade.

“I’m inundated with orders for furniture. All of my friends want something made,” he says.

“It’s a lot of fun. I’ve made good friends on the programme. The lecturers teach you the techniques then really push your creativity in your work and your design. Seeing the quality of the second year’s work this year really staggered me, so I’m looking forward to next year.”


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