All down hill from here to suc­cess

Skier changes chan­nel on dis­abil­ity

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

Changeth­eChan­nel the sub­ject line. Haw­era man An­drew Flem­ing loves skiing at Cardrona, rel­ishes his life-coach­ing busi­ness and cel­e­brates his in­de­pen­dence.

It is nearly 15 years since a quad-bike ac­ci­dent caused se­ri­ous spinal in­juries and robbed the for­mer farmer, now 46, of the use of his legs.

Flem­ing was an ac­com­plished wa­ter and snow skier be­fore his ac­ci­dent and be­gan snow skiing again at Cardrona Alpine Ski Re­sort a few years ago.

This Au­gust he is re­turn­ing again to carve up the moun­tain on his mono-ski rig with fel­low adap­tive skier Ian Rowe of New Ply­mouth.

Just months af­ter Flem­ing’s ac­ci­dent, his wife left him and he got down in the dumps. Dur­ing his re­cov­ery, he be­came the $265 dol­lar man – sur­viv­ing on a small weekly ACC in­come be­cause in his pre­vi­ous life he had not fac­tored the pos­si­bil­ity of a per­ma­nent dis­abil­ity into his fi­nan­cial plans.

When dark­ness de­scends, re­build­ing a mean­ing­ful life can seem im­pos­si­ble but the de­ter­mined Flem­ing emerged with fresh life plans, a new ca­reer and a pas­sion for Cardrona.

He de­scribes how he achieved all this and more in his book, Change the Chan­nel, launched last Novem­ber.

Flem­ing says Cardrona’s adap­tive ski pro­gramme and ter­rain makes the sport so much eas­ier for wheel­ies such as him­self and friends Rowe and Corey Peters, the Par­a­lympian sil­ver medal­ist skier.

Cardrona was ‘‘bet­ter than any­where else’’ for adap­tive sport but de­spite con­quer­ing dozens of chal­lenges on his road to re­cov­ery, Flem­ing ad­mits to ‘‘feel­ing the fear’’ and not be­ing as brave a skier as his friends.

‘‘No, com­pe­ti­tions are not for me! It is just about skiing. But even when I was able­bod­ied, it was just about skiing.’’

Flem­ing says he might be­come bolder as he im­proves but he is con­scious he is not get­ting any younger and more in­juries could make things harder for him.

Rigs such as Flem­ing’s Ja­pan-made Nissin cost about $10,000 each. They are im­ported by World Wheel Prod­ucts, a busi­ness set up by Rowe and Wanaka’s Quentin Smith.

Flem­ing said it took ages to save for the Nissin be­cause for many years, his fi­nan­cial fo­cus on ac­quir­ing a mod­est prop­erty port­fo­lio of four houses.

Pain has been huge fac­tor in Flem­ing’s life post-ac­ci­dent. He went back to work at his fam­ily’s poul­try farm af­ter­wards but his changed cir­cum­stances meant the work was ex­haust­ing, painful and stress­ful. He de­cided to change tack and ex­plore things he wouldn’t have pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered.

Pas­sive in­come from prop­erty in­vest­ment, plus his ACC en­ti­tle­ments, gives him the se­cu­rity and in­de­pen­dence he needs to bal­ance his work and on­go­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Flem­ing says he has ac­cu­mu­lated a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ences that more than bal­ance the loss of po­ten­tial he might have had as an able-bod­ied worker.

He is now in a much hap­pier place and en­joys coach­ing oth­ers to ful­fil their po­ten­tial. Clients are from all walks of life and have all sorts of rea­sons for need­ing to change.

‘‘If I can ex­pand that tun­nel they are look­ing down and get bit more of a view of the pe­riph­ery, that helps break down the chal­lenge . . . A lot of it is about how emo­tions are linked to self es­teem. If peo­ple can un­der­stand that link, get on top of their emo­tions, that can get them through change,’’ he said.

An­drew Flem­ing

The Mir­ror has a copy of Changeth­eChan­nel to give away to a reader. Please email your name and con­tact de­tails to mir­ror@stl.co.nz with

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