A young Williams Lake architectural draftsmen decided to turn a hobby into a mini business when the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on work opportunities.
Allan Stafford, 21, achieved a diploma from the University of the Fraser Valley trades in architectural drafting. He was working in his field prior to the pandemic.
“I wanted a way to get myself some income,” he said at the Williams Lake Farmers Market where he had his Wheelchair Woodturnings items on display.
Born with spina bifida, that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly, Stafford can walk but finds because he is limited it really helps to use a wheelchair, especially on rough terrain or long distances.
As a young child he underwent a few surgeries, but for the most part he’s been able to lead a ‘normal and healthy life,’ he said he ‘can’t really complain.’
His love for woodworking began as a teen while enrolled in a course at Lake City Secondary School.
Being in a wheelchair he wasn’t able to do a lot of the woodworking itself, so being able to sit in front of the lathe allowed him to interact with the class in a safe way that didn’t put himself or his classmates at risk around the machinery, he said.
Woodworking soon became a way to let his creative juices flow while still making something that was practical. It also became something he did through 4-H.
Set up with a small wood shop at home, Stafford creates pens, kitchen ware, outdoor items, sewing items, even shoe horns with long wooden handles.
He also makes back-scratchers, which are presently sold out as he is waiting for a shipment from Canada Post for metal parts, which he orders in.
Wood he uses is either gifted to him or he orders it from Windsor Plywood in an effort to support local business.
Stafford has always loved being in and around the trades doing things and said he chose drafting because of his own physical limitations.
“I cannot do carpentry, plumbing or electrical, so this is my way of giving back in the trades community in the best way that I can.”
His parents are Fred and Elaine Stafford and he has an older brother Ian and sister Amy.
Describing Williams Lake as a small town, he said he likes living here.
When he attended university he could drive himself around but didn’t enjoy living in a big city, he added.
“I’m a little reserved and don’t normally put myself out there a whole lot,” he said.
Chuckling his dad added ‘it’s funny’ with Allan.
“With his 4-H stuff and what have you, he has done speeches and demos and always says beforehand, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this,’” Fred said. “Then it comes time to do it and he flourishes and away he goes. It’s always hard to take those first steps, but once he does and realizes he can do it, he just goes from there.”
Stafford also takes custom orders and can be reached through his website wheelchairwoodturnings.com.