Sheepworld vender John Collyer, front left, and Springboard founder Gary Diprose, front right, see an even brighter future for the iconic tourist attraction. They are surrounded by Springboard staff and supporters.
Springboard Community Works staff and supporters gathered at Sheepworld earlier this month to celebrate the youth organisation’s purchase of the iconic Mahurangi tourist attraction.
Springboard founder Gary Diprose says when Springboard takes possession in October, the plan is for Sheepworld to continue to be a major attraction for visitors – with its sheep shows, farmyard park, retail store, café and petting zoo – while at the same time offering unparalleled opportunities for the at-risk youth Springboard assists.
“It will become a real-life training site for young people, teaching them skills in things like horticulture, sheep shearing, retail and hospitality,” Gary says.
In the café, young people will gain confidence in working with the public and learn about cooking and how to be a good barista. Outside, they will develop other practical skills, such as planting, pest trapping and fencing.
Gary also anticipates that caring for animals will have a calming effect on young people from difficult backgrounds and help them move forward.
“We are all in a buzz about this. We’ve got more ideas than you can count sheep to go to sleep on.”
He says Springboard will sell its headquarters in Snells Beach to help finance the purchase, and the expanded site will give it the opportunity to help more young people.
Springboard has already been urged to run farming and horticultural courses, but until now simply has not had the space to do so. Other activities have also been restricted because of the lack of space.
“The thing that keeps my heart jumping is this will be a resource for the community dedicated to helping youth, just like hospice has got their dedicated facility for assisting the terminally ill. It’s pretty cool, and it’s right on State Highway 1,” Gary says.
He was alerted to the sale of Sheepworld after reading a story in Mahurangi Matters (MM May 19). At first, he thought he was too late to put in a bid and the purchase too ambitious. But he changed his mind after talking to the agent and learning that the current owner, John Collyer, was anxious that the property ended up in good hands.
John says he was contacted by Springboard at the 11th hour, but felt it was vital they were allowed to put an offer in.
“When I learned about the organisation, I said we have just got to let these people on the bus. We already had some good offers for Sheepworld, but I could not think of a better future for the property than what these guys are going to do with it,” he says.
Current Sheepworld staff are expected to be retained, and John believes the existing Sheepworld business will be enhanced by Springboard’s involvement.
“They can do a better job than ever I could as the sole owner. They will have a lot more energy and a lot more resources to drive the business than I had,” he says.