TWENTY years ago joiner Dave Marsden bought a book about making rocking horses, read it and then put it away until he had time to follow its instructions.
But life and work commitments being what they are, he never did find the time. Until now that is.
After nearly 40 years of working in the building trade and passing on his skills to young apprentices at college, a heart attack two years ago forced him to stop and take stock.
He took voluntary redundancy from his lecturing job at Chesterfield College, packed in the weekend building work, and set up in business doing what he loves.
The result is Cherished Rocking Horses, run from his home on Lincoln Street, Worksop.
Dave, 56, said: “It gives me chance to be creative and I find it quite therapeutic.”
“I’ve had angina since I was 25 and after having my heart attack I had to have a stent fitted.”
“I was suffering from mental stress at work and when I left I was on sickness benefit but that wasn’t enough to live on so I started to think of what else I could do.”
“ I find making the rocking horses is very relaxing, I love it and there isn’t that stress anymore.”
“It’s better than putting window frames in all day long.”
Dave has built a workshop at the bottom of his garden to build the horses which take about six weeks to complete because of the time drying time for the glue and the paint.
They are completely hand-made, with no power tools and no screws, which means every horse is unique.
Each one has real horse hair for its mane and tail and a real removeable leather saddle, all made to child safety standards.
There are three sizes, ranging in price from £995 to £1,400.
Dave’s daughter Tammyanne has set up a website for him and he expects most of his business to come from outside Worksop.
“Rocking horses like this are a rich man’s toy so it’s a niche market, and we live in a working class community.”
“People buy them and keep them to hand down the generations, they will last for 100 years,” he said.
“I never had anything like this when I was growing up, my mother had seven of us and we didn’t have the money for rocking horses.”
Tammyanne’s 15-month-old daughter Arabella has benefited from her grandad’s carpentry skills.
He built a horse for her which is also a time capsule.
Dave’s wife Beryl said: “The inside of the horse’s body is hollow so we filled it with all sorts of things. There was a photo of Dave making it, along with other photos and mementoes.”
Dave will make horses to a customer’s specification and there has already been website interest from around the world.
He made his first horse out of pine but has since gone on to use tulip wood, also known as American poplar, and he plans to make his next one out of lime.
“That’s the best one for carving because it’s a hard wood. The most difficult bit to do is the head and face,” he explained.
Dave, who is a member of the Rocking Horse Guild of Makers, has also made a small carousel horse which has everything on it carved into the wood, including the saddle and face, and is painted in bright colours.
For more information go to www.cherishedrockinghorses.co.uk or call 531578.