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Inverness BID Small Business Focus Q&A: An affinity with machines keeps life ticking along

By Features Reporter

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Paddy Raftery, Clockmaker. Picture: James Mackenzie
Paddy Raftery, Clockmaker. Picture: James Mackenzie

Small Business Focus in association with Inverness BID

Q How would you describe your business to a stranger?

A Clockmaker, situated in Two:8 Studios, Church Street, is a socially enterprising repair project that makes and repairs clocks, watches, and repairs/restores items from the house and garden (toys, games, tools, musical instruments, sewing machines, mowers etc). Rather than charging a fixed price, I ask for a donation for whatever people can afford. Clockmaker aims to lower personal costs for individuals and reduce consumption and waste. Above all else, I believe that my work makes people happy.

Q What inspired you to start the business?

A I have what mental health professionals call borderline personality disorder (or EUPD), which means I’m ultra-sensitive to what people say or do.

This obviously means I’m not great around people. Machines, on the other hand, I seem to have a natural affinity for.

I wanted to find an appropriate outlet for my skills, which promoted a circular economy and also went some way to benefitting people’s mental health and combating social isolation and loneliness.

Q How has your business developed?

A I have had a fascination with clocks and modelling since I was a little boy and would make and repair models and clocks in my spare time at sea.

Machining, metalwork, and mechanical engineering are my bread and butter. I came shoreside in 2014 and carved out a niche as something of a renewable power specialist.

I took myself off the employment merry-go-round late last year and started fixing things in my shed at home.

I began to look for a maker’s space in Inverness, and talked to creatives and thinkers, anyone who could teach me about transitioning to a circular economy, degrowth, and social and environmental justice.

I discovered the guys in Two:8 Studios and started the project with a dilapidated kitchen worktop as a workbench, in a studio with more holes than walls.

I have now outgrown my room and will be expanding into the adjoining studio.

Q What are your plans to develop your business in the future?

A To provide tool sharpening and general blacksmith services. To start a lending tool library. To create metal sculpture.

To teach, by encouraging people to learn how to fix items that are broken rather than throwing them away.

Learning how to repair is a lifelong skill which can be passed on, adding to the growing network of people who can salvage items which would otherwise end up in landfills.

I strongly believe that anything can be fixed, it just takes longer in some cases.

Q What lessons have you learnt from your time in business?

A If you have a vision, stick to it, no matter what. Do not compromise, ever. We have one life; we should value it but at the same time not take it too seriously.

Q What’s your vision for Inverness city centre?

A Inverness needs more music venues/clubs/shops/spaces that cater for the alternative, not just for the mainstream and tourists. We have the Tooth & Claw and the Market Bar, but we need more.

Q Can you tell us something interesting about yourself?

A I was an engineer in the Merchant Navy for 25 years. I’m now content in my little corner of the Highlands. I am a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and professionally registered with the Engineering Council as an Incorporated Engineer. I am a member of, and studying under, the British Horological Institute. I hope to someday become a Fellow of the BHI. I spend most of my time outside, gardening or just listening to/watching nature.

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