Tributes have been paid to Ripon’s Mr Tools.
Mark Henshaw of Skellbank died in March, having just passed his 81st birthday.
After farming for 20 years at Winksley and before that running a business doing precision woodwork, Mark was determined to have a purposeful retirement which kept him close to tools.
Reader Francis McCrickard said: “Twelve years ago on a voluntary basis, he established Ripon Tools for Africa collecting tools and sewing machines that people no longer wanted and recycling them through two national charities - Tools for Self Reliance and Workaid. Both provide tool kits and training in a variety of trades to individuals and projects in several African countries.
“Mark established a busy concern which took up a lot of his time. One of his main sources of tools was the city’s recycling yard on Dallamires Lane where the council allowed him to have a special collecting receptacle.
“Over the years, thousands of tools that might otherwise have been scrapped, were collected from there and also from individuals who heard about Mark’s volunteer work and contacted him directly.”
While he was still able, Mark worked on reconditioning the tools himself, removing rust, sharpening blades, fitting new handles and doing whatever else was required to render the tools fit to be used to provide a livelihood for artisans in some of the poorest communities in the world. Numerous people have benefited from his dedication and hard work.
In more recent years, as his strength inevitably began to fail, Mark redirected this work to other volunteer groups or to the charities directly.
In addition to recycling tools, Mark showed considerable entrepreneurship by raising money from scrap, selling tools that were not needed and also the unsolicited items that accumulated.
This and the occasional donation raised thousands of pounds for Tools for Self Reliance. However, Mark joked that some things left at the Dallamires depot were impossible to sell. These included a broken toilet seat and a full set of dentures.
He was delighted to be joined in recent years by two other volunteers and to know that the collection point at the recycling yard would remain open and the work would continue. If you have unwanted tools please leave them there or contact 078140205666.