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Former cabinet maker restores furniture to repay Salvation Army kindness

Gordon Wallace, from Glasgow, is a volunteer at our Dumbarton Road shop where he rescues and repairs pieces of furniture that would otherwise end up in landfill. The 50-year-old worked with Glasgow-based Morris Furniture for over 30 years but his skills in a declining trade were no longer required and he was made redundant. Gordon managed to get another job but it was on a zero-hours contract and often he had no work at all. He began to struggle to pay his mortgage and eventually his home was repossessed.

Finding himself without a roof over his head and needing somewhere to stay, Gordon was referred to The Salvation Army’s Burnbank Gardens Lifehouse. With the help and support from the staff at the centre, Gordon got back on his feet and into his own flat. It was during his time at Burnbank Gardens that Gordon began volunteering at The Salvation Army’s shop on Dumbarton Road.

He said: “The Sally Army helped and I don’t know what I would have done without that support.

“I now have my own flat and things are looking up. I volunteer three days a week in the shop using my skills to repair and build up furniture. I also upcycle things like old coffee tables and what not.

“I get great pleasure using my skills as a way of showing my appreciation for the help I was given.”

Shop manager Denise Waterson paid tribute to Gordon for helping boost the work of The Salvation Army by repairing thousands of pounds worth of furniture.

She said: “Gordon is a real asset to us here at the shop and to The Salvation Army. Before Gordon started with us, we’d have to scrap a lot of furniture we received because it was broken or missing parts. But Gordon is amazing at fixing even the most damaged pieces. The furniture he rescues can then be sold to support The Salvation Army’s work in helping vulnerable people across Glasgow.”

And shop manager Denise revealed that Gordon’s talents don’t end at cabinet making – he is also a talented artist with an impressive and bulging portfolio of watercolour and acrylic paintings. She admits being blown away when she first saw Gordon’s work and after commissioning him to do a portrait of her dog, Denise is now organising a public exhibition of his work at the shop from Monday April 25.

Gordon revealed that his new-found talent actually stems from his early training as cabinet maker. He explains: "I've only really been painting for about three years. I avoided painting for a long time because I felt I was never going to be good at it. But I suppose it's a natural progression for me because I was trained as a technical drawer, and drawing was part of my trade.

"One day I decided to buy a cheap set of paints and just started. Then I thought: 'Wait a minute, I'm not bad at this,' and it just took off from there.

"Now I do a couple of art courses to help me with the techniques of working with watercolour and acrylic. I don’t like working with oils because it takes too long to dry. I like to work quickly. My tutors seem to be quite impressed with what I'm doing so that is encouraging.

"And of course I'm looking forward to having an exhibition at The Salvation Army shop."