Tom Pockley Lockdown Woodturner

I am one of the luckiest people you could meet. About a week after my 50th birthday the headmaster of the school where I had happily taught chemistry, invited anyone over 50 to take early retirement. I leapt at the chance and after two years of part time chemistry teaching and lots of woodturning started my second career. After making furniture with turned components and making Baroque wind instruments, I settled to about one third each of making work for galleries and craft fairs, making work for commissions and teaching woodturning. I was also accepted onto the Register of Professional Turners. When we moved from Essex to Kent, I joined the Sussex Guild.

When lockdown started the first things that happened to me and to my business were cancellations. Firstly, the courses I had booked were cancelled, as we knew it was going to be impossible to manage. Then the only fair that I had booked was cancelled. I was thinking that if something didn’t happen soon, I would have to retire again as I would run out of the wherewithal to pay the rent on my workshop. However, I did get a few orders and have had enquiries for courses and have a plan to make changes in my workshop that would make teaching possible again. So, my second career can extend to more than 25 years while the first was 30.

Recently I got a commission to make staircase spindles and newel posts etc. and I feel the future is now rosier and I have no excuse not to keep turning.

The lockdown has changed our lives in much the same way as for younger people though for us there is less frustration than for some as we have a garden and live in a village. So there has been more gardening, some DIY and a lot of discarding of old papers.

I no longer have a future of reading, walking the dog and sleeping during my average day but look forward to enjoying woodturning and teaching woodturning for a bit longer.

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