I started as a volunteer at Emmaus Hastings & Rother September 2009 having been told about it by friends at church – a trustee and several volunteers who were getting the shop in order (no companions at that time). 

I started just generally helping – painting, putting up shelves collecting and delivering furniture etc. 

There was an older chap here at Emmaus working with the furniture but he was volunteering at many other places as well, and something had to give. When he left Emmaus someone mentioned that he had left a piece of furniture half French polished, I said that I could French polish having taught myself many years before. 

I am a piano restorer by trade and taught myself to French polish from a book I got from the library, having watched it being done for many years, rather than having to pay someone else to do it. I hadn’t polished furniture before coming here to Emmaus but it’s all in the preparation, and since being here I’ve been able to try different finishes learning what does and doesn’t work. 

I enjoy working with the companions. There are so many different characters with their own story. I have had a few come through the workshop where I have been able to teach them how to repair, strip and re-polish furniture. It’s very rewarding when they are then able to work on pieces of furniture from start to finish themselves. 

I generally start at 10am and work through until 2.30 – 3pm, Tuesday to Friday, depending on how busy I am outside with my own work.