by Helen Martn
After 13 years volunteering as a maintenance man at Helensville Museum, Ron Isles is hanging up his hammer and saw and looking forward to new projects.
Ron, a retired builder, now 85 years old, moved to Helensville from Waitakere with his wife Alice when he was around 70 and soon found his way to the Helensville Museum. “I’ve always been a collector, for example my milk bottle collection started when my dad used to work for the Ambury’s co-operative in Epsom, so when Glenyss Blackshaw put an advert in the newspaper for museum volunteers I wandered in and said I was interested in gardening. When she found out I was a builder I didn’t get to do any gardening. I started by building eight outdoor seats, which are still in use, and replaced a balustrade.”
For the past 13 years Ron has spent two days a week at the Museum, helping with maintenance of the buildings and the growing machinery collection. “We gathered such a good collection of machinery we had a shed built and we filled it up in no time - small stuff like lights and old kerosene lanterns. We had to make a new room in the back of the courthouse, so we split that into three pieces and built a post office in front. For a two-year period, I had a gang of PD boys helping and they were very good.” Ron remembers the time when the PD workers helped move around 30 metres of tarseal off the road. “We diverted three big truckloads from the dump and spread it on the drive. At the time there were three volunteers, Robin and Tom and me. All the tar melted in the sun till it was a solid blob of tarseal, so I stood at the top of the heap, broke it up and pushed it down the side and the others raked it onto the concrete path. It was a big job.”
With more time on his hands, Ron now plans to make up a kitset a model of the Endeavour, a job he reckons will take him about two years. “This will be my second model boat. I built one about 20 years ago and it took me about three years.”
Ron says he has thoroughly enjoyed it his time volunteering at the Museum and he wishes all those involved the best of luck with the improvements being made.
To thank Ron for his years of selfless service the Museum committee have named a shed in his honour.