Spider-Man car added to preschool’s fleet

Spider-Man spin . . . Warren "Poppa" Ockwell takes Rainbow Preschool pupil Paige Anderson (4) for a drive in his Spider-Man mobile in South Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A reluctant superhero continues to make Dunedin children smile.

Warren “Poppa” Ockwell (82), of St Kilda, said Dunedin businesses gave him a mobility scooter, polystyrene and fibreboard and signage to build a Spider-Man car.

The inspiration for the car came from seeing Rainbow Preschool pupils wearing Spider-Man clothing to the child care centre in South Dunedin.

Since retiring as a carpenter and joiner about 18 years ago, Mr Ockwell regularly visited the centre, where his daughter Wendy-Anne Jarvis worked as a family support co-ordinator.

He had built several cars for the centre, including a Batmobile last year.

The children encouraged him to create the cars and gave him regular “hi-fives” , which “keeps me going”.

The Spider-Man car would make its debut at the centre at a “who let the dads out” event next week.

The private social gathering was for the men in the children’s lives.

Santa Parade in Dunedin on December 2.

Mr Ockwell said he built cars for the centre because it brought him, the children and families “joy”.

Some past centre pupils were now adults, he said.

“They see me in the supermarket and yell ‘Poppa’, and they’re taller than me.”

He intends to keep building cars for the centre for free.

“The reward comes to me from the love of the children and their families. That’s why I do it – it’s kept me young.”