SKILLED volunteers in Ashburton have become ‘victims of their own success’ carrying out repairs to items which would otherwise end up on the scrapheap.

Since launching the monthly Repair Cafe five years ago, the team has been inundated bringing a new lease of life to old and broken items.

A new home and expanded service will give them a chance to rescue even more items brought in for salvaging.

So far, several thousand items including appliances and furniture have been saved and to meet the growing demand for their services and skills, they have launched the Ashburton Repair Workshop.  

Equipped with a bright, safe workspace and a wide range of tools, they can tackle anything that needs mending from toasters to toys and chairs to china.

Fitting out the premises at the Old Umber Works in Chuley Road has been funded by generous donations from sponsors.

Representatives from those sponsors including Teignbridge Council, Devon County Council and Recycle Devon were invited to the workshop to see some of the work going on.

Brian and Gill Raynor showed their intricate repairs skills on Kathleen, a model gaff cutter with fibreglass hull and plywood deck made by Albatross Model Yachts of Paignton (pictured).

Brought in by Professor Tony Bolton, needing damage repairs to hull, rudder, mast, as well as re-rigging, he has donated the boat for auction, the proceeds to go towards running the workshop.

Nigel Ward, chairman of the workshop, said: ‘We are a charity and rely completely on donations from customers that bring in things for repair. Some items only take minutes to fix, others days.

‘It can be almost impossible for people to get domestic appliances fixed now due to manufacturers’ deliberate policy of non-accessible construction but our volunteers don’t give up easily, and we have a very high success rate.’

Volunteer Charles Hill-Smith constantly pits his wits against the steady stream of toasters, kettles, and similar appliances that come into the workshop.

He explained: ‘We have a large set of specialist tools which can be used to get past the ‘blocks’ that the makers put in. If I can’t figure something out, one of the other repairers will help.’

The need for a workshop became apparent with the popularity of the once-a-month sessions that were not enough to cope with demand and a need for somewhere to work and store items became critical.

Volunteer Michael Cranmer said:  ‘We are victims of our own popularity, but in a good way. Since our first meeting in 2018 we have dealt with 1,000s of items that would now be in landfill, an achievement that gives me great satisfaction.’

The workshop is open every Wednesday 3pm to 6pm and the Repair Café open on the first Saturday of each month at St Andrew’s Hall.

Click here for all information, where items can be booked in a specific time slot and their progress tracked, and donations and Gift Aid can be made.