A DOBCROSS man who helped rebuild his life through drystone walling is encouraging others to take up the ancient art.
John Matthews, a filmmaker, took up the hobby after a very difficult time in his life and found it helped return him to a positive, healthy state of mind.
Now, he has 30 places available through his Dog With A Bone drystone walling course with mindfulness after teaming up with Action Oldham to help improve the well-being of locals.
John explained: “My family went through a prolonged period of grief. We lost all our parents in the space of a few years and my own family fell apart after the death of my dad. I had no idea at the time but it had a massive effect on me.
“Some time later, I was introduced to drystone walling. I have a keen sense of history and sense of place. I found walling to be a deep experience, grounding me in the place.
“Walling cannot be rushed, it has to be done carefully, methodically and there is something very Zen about it. It is absorbing, relaxing.
‘When I showed MIND that I believed it had therapeutic benefits, we ran a pilot together. After studying it carefully agreed, they said it ticked every box, with many positive, healthy mindful benefits.
“When I went to see Action Oldham, they agreed to support us too. We now have funding for a year to see how many people we can introduce to this craft, as well as introducing some simple mindfulness techniques.
“We have 30 places for people who could not normally afford to do such a course, and for those who might not normally attend.
“The course is for anyone middle aged feeling lonely, isolated, long-term unemployed, anyone in recovery from an illness or for example PTSD.
“All we ask is you get someone from a club, society, church group or other to confirm you are our target people and that you are not in a position to just buy such a course.”
Nurse Hanna trained with Dog With A Bone last year and now repairs the walls surrounding her house in Diggle.
She said “This was a wonderful experience and the mindfulness introduction was a good foundation on which to build.
“Embrace every aspect, including whatever the weather can throw at you in rainy Saddleworth! I fully intend on using what I have learnt and enjoying the peace and tranquillity it brings.”
If you know someone who could benefit from doing the course, email firstname.lastname@example.org. People can come with friends or with their group. Each session has up to six students. The first courses will run just after Easter.
Find out more about Dog With A Bone drystone walling online: www.facebook.com/dogwithbone