Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY ● CAMERON BLOOM

how a mag­pie helped a fam­ily heal

Sam and Cameron Bloom were on an ad­ven­ture in Thai­land with their three boys in 2013 when tragedy struck. The fam­ily was on a rooftop ter­race and Sam leaned against the safety rail – un­aware its sup­ports had rot­ted away. She crashed to the con­crete two storeys be­low, shat­ter­ing two ver­te­brae in her spine and los­ing the use of her legs. Sam slipped into a dark de­pres­sion. As Cameron tells Genevieve Gan­non, sal­va­tion came in the form of a scruffy lit­tle bird named Penguin.

“I t was im­me­di­ate and for­ever life chang­ing,” Cameron Bloom says of the ac­ci­dent that left his wife, Sam, twisted and bleed­ing on a con­crete pave­ment four years ago and ul­ti­mately changed their fam­ily and lives.

“To this day, I re­mem­ber look­ing back at one of our boys, who said, ‘Is Mum go­ing to die?’ and see­ing terror all over his face,” says Cameron, 45, a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher.

He also re­calls the tense wait in a far-flung Thai hospi­tal, the tears and sleep­less nights that fol­lowed. Thank­fully, Sam sta­bilised and im­proved. But she’d never walk again.

When she re­turned to the fam­ily’s Syd­ney home, Sam, now 45, fell apart. Be­fore the ac­ci­dent she had led an ac­tive, vi­brant life and the re­al­ity of what she had lost weighed heav­ily on her. Cam, who is not re­li­gious, found him­self pray­ing.

It was dur­ing this time that son Noah found a baby mag­pie who had

barely sur­vived her own brush with death. A gust of wind had blown the chick from her nest. The boys – Rueben, now 15, Noah, 13, and Oliver, 11 – promptly named the bird Penguin be­cause of her black and white plumage.

Penguin healed slowly. At the same time, Sam was strug­gling with her own re­cov­ery. Be­ing un­able to help her boys when­ever they got sick was par­tic­u­larly hard on her. But Penguin had to be fed every two hours.

“Penguin needed her,” Cam says. “Sam’s de­meanour and out­look on ev­ery­thing sud­denly changed for the bet­ter be­cause she could help Penguin.”

Sam nursed Penguin, who be­came an uplift­ing, mis­chievous pres­ence – and a mem­ber of the fam­ily.

“They formed a unique bond and it just lifted Sam’s spir­its,” Cam says. “It made her re­alise she could still get on and be suc­cess­ful and do some of the things she loves. It just made her re­alise life was worth liv­ing.”

Right: Oliver, Rueben, Cameron, Sam and Noah with Penguin. Penguin and Sam’s story is be­ing made into a film star­ring Naomi Watts as Sam. It will be shot in Aus­tralia and Thai­land.

As Sam and Penguin healed each other, the bird be­came an uplift­ing and cheeky mem­ber of the Bloom fam­ily. Penguin mim­ics Sam as she does her re­hab ex­er­cises . BE­LOW: The pair formed a unique bond.

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