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16 October 2014

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A Twist of Fate.

By Sharon Littley and Clive Griffin
May 2002, Port Talbot
A digital story from Capture Wales

Carving a friendship

Sharon and Clive tell us about how lovespoon carving has shaped a lasting friendship between them.

A love spoon... it's a thing of beauty and a token of love. But, for Clive and I, it's a discovery of a talent we didn't know we had and opportunities we would have missed if fate hadn't played a hand. I got into carving because of the need to get my husband out of the house as he coped with a brain tumor. He needed a hobby and I had to drive him there, so I needed to occupy my time too.

What were my choices, Spanish? Yoga? Ych, no thanks. Instead, I ended up joining him in the wood carving class even though I hadn't touched a piece of wood or handled a chisel before.

Clive -
I needed a new hobby to occupy my time as I grappled with retirement through ill-health and coping with my wife's Multiple Sclerosis. I visited a local craft event and came across love spoon carvers who encouraged me to attend their class.

I drove to the venue, stopped the car and sat there unable to go inside. After half an hour I turned the key to drive away then quickly turned the engine off, going inside before I could change my mind.

Soon after, at another group, I met Sharon and we gradually became friends. Many lovespoons later she suggested writing a 'how to do' book on lovespoon carving... a hair brain scheme - or so I thought - but it's happened. It's published and were both very proud of it.

Sharon -
We've also visited America, Japan and Ireland after receiving invitations to demonstrate and exhibit our lovespoons there. These visits have been vibrant and exciting as we sample the different cultures and languages. And to think, we could have missed out on it all if I would have chosen Spanish and Clive would have driven away.

We hope our journey continues."

Sharon Littley and Clive Griffin

What's your story about?
Our story is about how through the ill health of our spouses we found friendship, happiness and success through woodcarving. Whilst we both got into carving via different routes we eventually met and formed a lasting friendship. Since then a lot has happened for us, the book has been produced, and we have become worldwide travellers demonstrating and exhibiting our work in America, Ireland and Japan.

Why was it important for you to tell this story?
We wanted to tell people what it's like to see loved ones become ill; to cope and care for our partners' needs, and to watch helplessly as their health deteriorates. Even though there are dark clouds surrounding our lives, each one has a silver lining - and that is thanks to woodcarving.
We wanted other people to gather strength from the possibility that not all bad news spells doom and gloom forever.

How did you first get into carving?
Sharon -
I was born in Bridgend, left school at 16 and went straight into full time office work. Twenty five years later I was asked if I wanted to teach woodcarving and computers. I particularly like carving detailed work, finding satisfaction in seeing the transformation from a bit of wood to a work of art.
Clive -
I was born in Neath, in 1943, and worked as a carpenter during my early/mid adulthood and then changed direction to work for a petrol company until ill health forced me to retire earlier than I had expected. In 1995, I got introduced to some woodcarvers and that sparked an interest that initially absorbed then obsessed me, giving me a new zest forlife. I joined a local lovespoon carving group, finding new skills and most of all a host of friends.

Did you enjoy the experience of creating your digital story?
We felt there was a story to tell and we wanted to share it with others. We were both a bit apprehensive at first. As time went by we got more and more enthusiastic and excited at what we were doing.
We felt on such a high, totally elated and we thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone else's film thinking what a brilliant job everyone had done. We are still in contact with others from the group and it's all thanks to the BBC.
So for all you out there if you're thinking that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, there is if you look hard enough. Being able to tell our story as a digital story on the worldwide web is the icing on the cake.

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