Builder battles on
A 27-YEAR-OLD’S dream of being a builder has been cut short by a rare spinal disease.
But Richard Hormon says he will still compete in a toplevel carpentry contest, relying on painkillers to get through.
The Unitec Mt Albert student was diagnosed in January with a spinal disease osteochondrosis, which was dormant until he jarred his back in a fall.
Hormon says he was told by his doctor that he’s had advanced spinal damage for his age and that three discs had died.
‘‘The doctor said ‘I don’t think the pain’s going to disappear for a while, maybe a couple years’.
‘‘That was really hard to take because I’ve almost finished my time here,’’ the fourth-year apprentice says.
‘‘I felt robbed. That was probably the hardest news I’ve had so far. Soulbreaking, really.’’
Bending and heavy lifting will make the pain worse over time, meaning Hormon runs the risk of speeding up the disease or paralysis.
He’s on painkillers so he can continue working to financially support himself.
‘‘It’s definitely really hard because the pain is always there but it’s just what do I do? That’s all I know how to do. I need to get by.’’
Hormon says he is determined to stay in the industry, and is exploring project management.
He is taking part in the New Zealand Carpentry Apprentice Challenge this Saturday. Hormon and seven other apprentices will have eight hours to build a garden seat, using their planning, math and carpentry skills. Each seat will be donated to a hospice.
Unitec’s Joe Hede says the competition combats the ‘‘dummy’’ stereotype sometimes tied with carpentry.
Hede, manager of Unitec’s apprenticeship training trust, says entrants are judged on the whole package – skills and professional behaviour – with winners going through to the national finals in Hamilton in June.
Young people are given a bad reputation but the apprentices are hardworking and talented, he says.
Past competitors have built dog kennels, door frames and stairs, and wendy houses which were donated to Auckland kindergartens.
Hede says 16 apprentices have entered this year’s event.
Entries are open to all Industry Training Association Building and Certified Builders member apprentices.
The national winner gets $5000 worth of prizes, including an Outward Bound trip.
The challenge is open to the public to view and takes place on April 12 from 8am to 4pm at building 108 at the Unitec Mt Albert campus.
Student perseveres: Richard Hormon, 27, was diagnosed with the spinal disease osteochondrosis in January but is determined to compete in the NZ Carpentry Apprentice Challenge tomorrow.