Coopernook Hotel is known for great pub food if you ask local Chris Pearson, but it's his handcrafted mini pub money box that's tipped to attract crowds, and hopefully cash for Carols in the Park.
Fireworks feature in the event that draws people from all over the Manning Valley and fundraising to foot the bill is beginning in August, "as it's the most expensive part of running the carols," says Chris.
Chris is a craftsman of rocking horses and so the choice to make a mini pub money box presented the 87-year-old with a challenge.
His wife, Dorothy, smiles widely as Chris laughs and shares the story of its creation.
"I loved the challenge, it was marvellous! I am always looking for challenges," Chris said.
From concept to creation it took about three weeks, and it involved photos, the use of computer app 'Paint', marine ply, red cedar and beech.
"I took some photographs of the pub but noticed that it's very wide and low compared to its width," Chris said.
"If I had made one just like the pub it would have been huge, so I played with the proportions. I popped my photographs in Paint and stretched it until it looked alright to me. Then we printed that photo, I took some measurements and I made it from there.
It printed on an A4 sheet, so it's like an A4 version of the pub!Chris Pearson
"There were a lot of little fiddly bits, and a lot of throw away bits too - they were all the ones that didn't turn out quite right," Chris laughs.
"It's made of marine ply, and now that I've looked at it with the sun shining on it, it's looks great! A little bit of red cedar for the trims, and the roof is some kind of beech that I had lying around in the shed."
The mini pub money box is now installed on a small bookshelf that is stocked by the Coopernook Pop Up Op Shop. It is filled with books by volunteers from Coopernook Uniting Church, and locals and travellers are invited to take books, leave books and to consider giving a donation. The book swap initiative also promotes the op shop that uses proceeds from its sales to help community organisations in the area.
Chris and Dorothy moved to Coopernook in 1987 and embraced the intimacy of creating a life in a small community.
Their world was rocked in 1988 after an accident in Coopernook saw Chris fight to recover from injuries in intensive care for 13 weeks.
"They didn't expect me to live," Chris said. "Fortunately, I did!"
"I took early retirement from Standard Telephones and Cables at 55 in 1987, and moved to Coopernook with the intention of getting some little job."
Unfortunately on the day after my birthday in 1988 a forklift truck fell on top of me at Coopernook, and it put me out of action for a year.Chris Pearson
He recovered, they embraced the community and now they both work to give back with their service to the church and community, with Dorothy volunteering in the op shop and Chris, using his skills with timber to craft items that can be raffled to raise funds for the community.
The 2018 Carols in the Park included a raffle of one of his rocking horses, and it is likely another will be crafted for the event.
"I've made a lot of rocking horses for people, one went to England, one went to Queensland somewhere, and I make them for raffles for charity. I think I've made dozens of them."
Chris and Dorothy hope people will visit Coopernook Hotel to enjoy a great meal, see the money box, make a donation, and maybe visit the Coopernook Pop Up Op Shop which is open every Wednesday and Thursday from 9am until 2pm, and on the first and second Saturday each month at 6 Petrie Street.
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