Filling in the gaps at city's jigsaw library
ROY Hare has one of the trickiest jobs known to man – and probably even to woman.
Roy makes missing jigsaw puzzle pieces.
It is a task he has undertaken for many years and is not completely unrelated to the fact that he is chairman of the Devon & Exeter and District Jigsaw Puzzle Library.
Funnily enough Roy never does jigsaws, never has, probably never will now and doesn't feel he has missed out on a lot.
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"I don't do them, in fact I wonder some times how I ever ended up the chairman of the jigsaw library. It is a bit of a mystery," said Roy.
However, give him a hole in the middle of the sky or a blank where someone's face should be and he is in his element.
He explained how it is done: "We make up a section which surrounds the missing piece and that is held in place on a card by cling-film. It is sent to me and with a very fine pen I make an outline of the shape and cut it out. The really tricky bit is when it comes to painting. You can never quite perfectly match the colour of the original, but I get as close as I can."
If there is more than one piece missing the puzzle is usually thrown out, but that is rare for every part of the 2,000 jigsaws in the library – ranging from 100 to 1,000 piece sets – has been individually numbered and filed.
Roy said: "It means if a piece goes missing and is later found we can match it up to the correct puzzle."
Roy has been connected with the jigsaw library for several years, having become involved through his wife who was a very keen puzzler.
This year the library, founded at his Blackboy Road home by George Ashby, is celebrating its 40th anniversary amid fears the art of jigsaw making is dying out.
Roy said: "We could certainly do with some more members, and volunteers to help. Things are a bit tight just now."
Doing her best to help the club by selling her delicious chutneys, marmalade and jams is Kay Loosemore, 92, now library president, who joined up in the early years.
She said: "Sadly jigsaws are dying out, largely thanks to computers. But they are wonderful pastimes for the elderly and disabled, and they keep your mind alert.
"People just come in and they can take up to four puzzles at a time. There is no limit on how long they keep them. They comes in all sizes and there are also large-scale pieces for those who need them.You register before you take them out and we have an index of all the puzzles.
"We have a team of checkers who go through all the puzzles, making them up, when they are first donated, to ensure all the pieces are there.
"We also have a delivery service for those who are housebound.
"It all costs money, along with the rent on our room, electricity and telephone, which is why we are anxious for new members and volunteers.
"Some people still think jigsaws are just for children, but they are very good for the old grey matter.
"In fact when we started, some shops in Exeter made a fuss and said we would interfere with their trade. It meant we were not allowed to lend puzzles to children but only people over 50 and the disabled.
"It is a bit silly as we are a registered charity."
Gillian Major is another volunteer who doesn't do jigsaws. "It is just not something I have done.
"It would break my heart to spend all that time completing the puzzle and then have to break it back up into pieces, but I do enjoy helping," she said.
Gillian became involved through her friend, Rosemary Ponting, who joined around seven years ago. She said: "It is great fun and I would really recommend it.
"It is very relaxing and is certainly not child's play. Some are very tricky."
If you would like to join in the jigsaw fun as a volunteer or member call 01392 498539 or pop along to 3 Palace Gate, between 10am and 12.30pm, Monday to Friday, for a warm welcome.