A Donegal Men’s Shed wins at National Upcycle Challenge with delightful Thomas the Tank Engine

The group brought the railway back to Donegal with the iconic engine

Rosses Men's Shed

Rosses Men’s Shed brought the railway back to Donegal in the form of “Thomas the Tank Engine” and an old oil tank.

Rosses Men’s Shed really caught the eye of judges at the Upcycle Challenge 2020 with their very own Thomas the Tank Engine.

The group were worthy winners, bringing the railway back to Donegal and showing great creativity and skill and they turned an old oil tank into the iconic and beloved ‘Thomas.’ 

The Upcycle Challenge was set by and the Environmental  Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with regional waste management offices.

It invited participants to use their imaginations to create something new and useful out of old unwanted and discarded items or material.

In all, 259 entries were received from individuals, community organisations, Men’s Sheds, and schools across the country. A total of eight  category winners were decided by a judging panel who also chose three finalists for a People’s Choice Award. 

During November, the public voted for the three finalists on social media platforms. The Irish public decided the winner to be Ann Mc Kenna from County Monaghan who upcycles the clothes of people who died to make memorial bears for their loved ones.

The Rosses men won the Men’s Shed category.

Pat BOnner from Rosses Men’s Shed said: “Railways unfortunately disappeared from Donegal in the 1960s, so we decided to try and recreate and build our own 'Thomas The Tank Engine' as a reminder of those days. 

“It may sound like a childish proposition but as they say, 'Adults are just children at heart.....but with a few more wrinkles.’

“The inspiration for the project came from a Shed member’s better half. She decided to brighten up their back garden by painting a Thomas the Tank Engine face on their oil tank.”

Sinead Ní Mhainnin is Waste Prevention Officer with the Connacht Ulster Waste Management Planning Office. She said this year’s applications were of a very high standard making the judging process very difficult.

“The Upcycle Challenge is a collaboration between the EPA and the regional waste management offices under the umbrella of,” she said. 

“This year, as in other years, we challenged ourselves to get the nation thinking about reuse. The challenge helped create awareness of how we can reuse everyday objects by upcycling and repurposing them, as well as allowing people and groups to share their creativity with a wider audience. This year we also became acutely aware how important these projects were to a lot of people during the weeks and months of the pandemic. 

“Many entrants shared with us how working on these projects helped to sustain them during the lockdown and proved to be a useful exercise in managing mental health. We are therefore delighted with the positive impact these projects have on our environment and the well-being of the community at large.”

Due to public health restrictions, this year’s Upcycle Challenge Award ceremony will take the form of a video shared on social media channels showing the skills, creativity and ingenuity of all nine winners and their projects. 

Each winner will also receive an equal share of the €6,750 prize fund.

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