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Young Alex becomes local hero

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In Tamarind Vale, Sebastien and Alex Malo are heroes. With time on their hands — and nowhere to go thanks to Covid-19 — the pair rebuilt a beloved bench that was popular with kids in the Warwick neighbourhood.

It sat beside the main attraction: a rubber tree with an attached rope swing. Area resident Andrew Horsfield put the bench next to it 15 years ago having “pulled it out of the trash”.

It deteriorated over the years and, worried that someone sitting on it might be hurt, Mr Malo decided to put his skills to work.

He had been a carpenter in Montreal, Canada, before his wife, Melanie Ostiguy, was offered a job in Bermuda in 2002.

In recent years he and his 11-year-old son, Alex, have worked on several projects together, a pergola being perhaps the most notable.

The ailing bench provided a perfect opportunity.

“We had some spare time and we decided we wanted to do a project,” said Alex.

The first challenge was simply moving the piece of furniture to their home to work on.

“It was really heavy,” Alex laughed. “It was 300lbs.”

In the end they took it apart on the spot, and put it in the back of their car. Once home they cut new wood — a thrilling aspect of the project for Alex, who loves power tools.

“We used a planer to make the wood thinner,” the Mount St Agnes Academy student said. “Then we sanded it down. Then we drilled new holes and painted the legs. Then we assembled it with new stainless steel bolts and washers.”

According to Mr Malo part of the problem with the bench before they fixed it, was that it was wobbly. He believes that's because it didn't have washers.

“That is probably why it was unstable to use. So we made it [more] stable.”

Another fun part of the project for Alex was taking bolts out and drilling them back in.

“That was fun,” he said. “I also liked the sanding and the painting.”

Maths is his favourite subject at school. His hope is to one day become an architect.

“We did have to use maths for this project,” he said. “We needed to cut the pieces of wood exactly the same. And then we had to drill the holes and align them with the existing holes.”

Once finished, the bench was too heavy for them to carry back to its spot.

“We had to dismantle it again and put it in the car,” Mr Malo said.

“It was good to know that the bench could be used again,” commented Alex.

He was thrilled when he saw some of his neighbours actually sitting on the bench reading. He got several congratulatory texts from the Tamarind Vale WhatsApp group.

“Andrew Horsfield made sure that they knew who did the bench,” Mr Malo said. “We had a lot of positive messages.”

Mr Malo hopes that Alex learnt that with time and effort, he can bring back old objects to life.

“I do miss carpentry sometimes but being able to do project like this one for the community helps me reconnect with the trade,” he said.

He's now working with Alex and his siblings — Jade, 14 and Laurie, 12 — to clean up the entire area around the rubber tree.

“With my children, we cut the overgrown palms leafs and rake the rubber tree leafs,” Mr Malo said. “Sometimes I go and cut the grass. We are using the gardening tools that we have, but it would be nice to have a dump truck to carry the dead branches and leaves away.”

Hard at work: Alex Malo helping his father to rebuild a bench for his Tamarind Vale community (Photograph supplied)
Alex Malo and his dog enjoying the bench he helped to rebuild in his Tamarind Vale neighbourhood (Photograph supplied)
Alex Malo and his dog enjoying the bench he helped to rebuild for his Tamarind Vale neighbourhood (Photograph supplied)

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Published May 13, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 13, 2020 at 8:44 am)

Young Alex becomes local hero

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