Af­ter years of fight­ing, Ben’s fu­ture is set­tled

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

he said.

“Some peo­ple still feel we should be do­ing what it was orig­i­nally in­tended for, which was mar­itime train­ing.”

When the club was built, there was an in­ten­tion to build sail train­ing fa­cil­i­ties on the prime piece of real es­tate on Pioneer Bay and Mr Dar­bey said the land was still coun­cil zoned for that pur­pose.

An­other com­mit­tee mem­ber, Clay­ton Matthews, said the com­mit­tee was in­structed to act on the best interests of the club and he be­lieved it was not in the club’s best in­ter­est to sell the land in the cur­rent cli­mate.

“If the mar­ket turns and we think we will get bet­ter money for what the land is worth, we will prob­a­bly put it back to the mem­bers,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s the mem­bers’ land and for them to say (what is done with it).” FIVE years ago, Ben Wardroper had an ac­ci­dent that would change his life for­ever – but today he is hap­pily plan­ning his

30th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion and wedding.

On Novem­ber 15, 2012, the for­mer Whit­sun­day lo­cal was paral­ysed from the waist down at just 23 years old af­ter a work site ac­ci­dent in Lon­don.

For out­go­ing, rugby-lov­ing Ben, the ac­ci­dent had a pro­found ef­fect on his psy­cho­log­i­cal state.

He had been dat­ing his Dutch girl­friend Richa Weusthof for lit­tle more than a month and was due to fly to the Nether­lands to meet her fam­ily the week­end af­ter his ac­ci­dent.

Ben’s next big ob­sta­cle was his com­pen­sa­tion claim that, af­ter more than three years, was fi­nally set­tled in Fe­bru­ary last year.

But fast for­ward to today and as Ben plans his 30th birth­day next year, he’s also plan­ning his wedding to Richa.

Richa moved to Aus­tralia to be with Ben soon af­ter he re­turned home, even­tu­ally set­tling in Townsville.

The en­gaged cou­ple has since built a fully adapted, wheel­chair- friendly prop­erty which they de­signed to­gether.

“We’ve de­signed the house ex­actly how we want it and it means I can be as in­de­pen­dent as I can,” Ben said.

“Richa is set­tling into Aus­tralian life well. She did find a lot of cul­tural dif­fer­ences but is lov­ing her new Aussie life­style.

“She has a job she loves and I think that has made the tran­si­tion a lit­tle eas­ier.”

PHOTO: PETER CAR­RUTHERS

NO SALE: Whit­sun­day Sail­ing Club com­mit­tee mem­bers Bren­don Dar­bey and Clay­ton Matthews with sec­re­tary Leonie Matthews.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

RE­COV­ERY: Ben Wardroper and his fi­ancee Richa Weusthof.

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