REBUILDING THEIR LIVES: Hamish Graham and his fiancee, Heather Adams, who are to marry on October 1. SURPRISE WELCOME HOME FOR HAMISH–18.09.2006 BY WILL JACKSON [email protected]

THE last time Hamish Graham was at his Goonengerry property he was flat on his back waiting for help after he broke his neck playing backyard cricket. Now, almost a year after the accident, he has returned to find a new home built by his neighbours, friends and supporters. Accompanied by fiancee Heather Adams, Hamish flew by air ambulance from Sydney to Ballina, before being admitted to Mullumbimby Hospital for a temporary stay until their wedding. The couple will marry on October 1 in a wedding which they also have the community largely to thank for. The couple say they can hardly believe the generosity shown by their many supporters.HAMISH GRAHAM drove his wheelchair around his new home for the first time last Friday. It was something of a surreal experience, he said. The last time he was at the Goonengerry property in November he was flat on his back waiting for the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter to take him to hospital after he broke his neck playing backyard cricket. While Hamish has been undergoing rehabilitation in Sydney, his neighbours and community have been preparing for his return by helping build a new house and landscaping his property. "I hardly recognised the place," an awestruck Hamish said. "We’ve been away so long it really hasn’t kicked in that we’re back. I think we’re still in shock." Accompanied by fiancee Heather Adams, Hamish flew by air ambulance from Sydney to Ballina last Thursday, and then drove to Mullumbimby Hospital to stay temporarily until their wedding. The couple said they could hardly believe the generosity shown by their many supporters. "I met the sparky who is wiring up the house yesterday," Hamish said. "We’d never met before, but he’s still doing all the work for free." The couple are busily preparing for their wedding on October 1 — Hamish proposed to Heather two weeks before the accident — while also finishing off the house. They expect they will finally be able to adjust to their new life once all that is out of the way. Hamish said he had gone through some very bleak times in the 10 months since that fateful cricket catch left him paralysed from the neck down, but things were beginning to look brighter as his new normal life approached. He is getting better at driving his wheelchair and gaining strength in his bicep and shoulder muscles. "It’s a big learning thing that’s going to last for years," he said. "A lot of it is finding new ways to be able to do everyday things." One of his goals was to be able to sign his own name on his marriage certificate, which he recently learned to do using a pen gripped in his teeth. While Heather and Hamish have received numerous offers of support, they’re still looking for a couple of things: a wedding DJ and some extra cash to install a hydrotherapy pool. Anyone wishing to help out should call Karan Morrisey on 6684 9461.

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