Carver, boat builder create gems at Summerset down the Lane

Megan Godfrey is 94 years old and carves creations from wood, bone and fossils.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Megan Godfrey is 94 years old and carves creations from wood, bone and fossils.

An axe and a chainsaw were once Neil Timmo's tools of choice.

Working in the native timber industry meant he'd always been handy. Now retired, he works with more intricate tools to build model boats.

In his garage there is a French fishing trawler, a Mississippi paddle boat and a tug he calls Rotterdam.

Neil Timmo has been building replicas of historical boats and ships for more than eight years.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Neil Timmo has been building replicas of historical boats and ships for more than eight years.

Around the corner, Megan Godfrey sits in her apartment carving.

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Adorning her shelves are pieces made from cow bone, camellia wood, fossils and obsidian.

Neil has built French fishing trawlers, Mississippi paddle boats and tugs.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Neil has built French fishing trawlers, Mississippi paddle boats and tugs.

The 94-year-old has carved every day for "umpteen years" and says she has to be kept out of mischief.

The two residents from Summerset Down the Lane are living proof that passions are hard to smother.

The retirement village in Hamilton has become home to their talents and allows the residents to showcase their work.

Megan Godfrey takes inspiration from her natural surroundings.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Megan Godfrey takes inspiration from her natural surroundings.

Timmo, 74, has been building boats for close to a decade. He was diagnosed with vascular dementia, which prompted his interest in craft.

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"Use the brain instead of lose it," he said.

"We went to the lake in Cambridge and there was a guy down there who had Parkinson's. He was shaky, but he was working the boat. I thought, well, if he's got Parkinson's and can do that, I can go home and build boats. That got me started."

All of his boats are remote-controlled and equipped with motors and batteries. One even has a water cannon which he can aim and fire remotely.

Each boat can take six to eight months to build and Timmo admits there has been a lot of trial and error.

"When I get fed up, I go for a walk. I'm not perfect, I just do it near enough," he said.

"It's something I've done for a while. It's become part of me now."

Godfrey calls herself Mrs Fix-It.

When she's not taking inspiration from her natural surroundings, carving roses, frogs, birds, bugs and fish, she's fixing treasured items for friends and family.

"I decided I had to take up something when my children grew up. I lived on my own, you see," she said.

In a cabinet in her apartment there are gems she's picked up throughout the years: a New Zealand whale's tooth, a mastodon tooth and ostrich eggs from Ngatea.

There's nothing she wouldn't carve.

Godfrey has even made a wooden chain for Timmo to use on one of his boats.

She allows herself three months per project.

"I make the time," she said. "It's my life."

Village manager Cecilia Storm said the village has hosted an exhibition for Timmo, Godfrey and fellow resident Jocelyn Hampton.

She said staff will continue to run these events.

"I think we are very fortunate to have that type of talent in the village, and we will do whatever we can to support them.

"I think we have a lot of talent that we don't even know about it. We'll definitely drive that exploration process and give them that opportunity to show off and live their dream."

 - Stuff

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