Heath­cote man recog­nised for work with beloved Cup win­ner


HEATH­COTE’S very own Gra­ham Sal­is­bury, along with his trusty side­kick Subzero (Subby), has been nom­i­nated for the Vic­to­rian Se­nior Aus­tralian of the Year award for his out­stand­ing work in equine ther­apy.

Equine-as­sisted ther­apy in­volves a range of treat­ments and ac­tiv­i­ties with horses and other equines to pro­mote hu­man phys­i­cal and men­tal health.

Subzero is a for­mer Mel­bourne Cup win­ner and af­ter re­tire­ment from the race track, Gra­ham adopted him.

In­stead of re­lax­ing and en­joy­ing the re­tired life, the pair have been on quite the jour­ney, trav­el­ling around the coun­try bring­ing joy to thou­sands of chil­dren and adults liv­ing with ill­ness and dis­abil­ity.

“I have been tak­ing part in the ther­apy for around 20 years now,” Gra­ham said.

“We both re­ally started five years prior to that, but that was mostly ed­u­ca­tional stuff in schools, to in­tro­duce Subby to equine ther­apy – you can’t just chuck them straight into it.”

Gra­ham and Subby visit about 75 to 80 schools, 60-odd re­tire­ment vil­lages and 25 hos­pi­tals an­nu­ally. It’s an in­cred­i­ble ef­fort. “We keep our­selves busy,” Gra­ham laughed. “Equine ther­apy is a great way to bring joy to some­one’s life who might not have much of it oth­er­wise. “They just get a kick out of it.” Gra­ham, who is un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy for cancer him­self, said he gets a par­tic­u­lar kick out of vis­it­ing ter­mi­nally ill chil­dren.

“I re­mem­ber go­ing to visit a few ter­mi­nally ill youn­gens, and a poor lit­tle kid was go­ing through chemo­ther­apy and had lost his hair,” Gra­ham said.

“I saw him, I knew what he was go­ing through first hand, and I could tell he wanted to in­ter­act with Subby, so I took off my hat and said to him ‘I think we might have the same bar­ber’.

“He had a laugh and I didn’t think much more of it, but later on his dad came over to me with tears in his eyes and said ‘that’s the first ex­pres­sion we have seen him make in months’, and for me, that’s what it’s all about.”

Gra­ham and Subby have worked tire­lessly to raise money for char­ity and make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in the aged and special needs com­mu­ni­ties.

The two of them have built a strong friend­ship through­out the years and nowa­days are just about in­sep­a­ra­ble.

“It re­ally makes me proud as punch,” Gra­ham said.

“I guess I know what it feels like to be the par­ents of a Brown­low medal­ist or some­thing like that, that’s how proud Subby makes me.”

The Vic­to­rian and Se­nior Vic­to­rian Aus­tralian of the Year were an­nounced last night at Gov­ern­ment House in Mel­bourne.

Gra­ham made the trip down for the din­ner and while he wasn’t ex­pect­ing to win, he knows a nom­i­na­tion is an­other feather in the cap for his de­serv­ing horse.

‘‘The Vic­to­rian nom­i­nees are in­spir­ing not only for their achieve­ments, but for their pas­sion­ate pur­suit of dreams, in­no­va­tive think­ing and com­mit­ment to help­ing oth­ers,” Na­tional Aus­tralia Day Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Kar­lie Brand said.

“Their sto­ries show us the many ways in which Aus­tralians are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”

For more in­for­ma­tion on the awards visit aus­

Heath­cote’s Gra­ham Sal­is­bury has been nom­i­nated for Vic­to­rian Se­nior Aus­tralian of the Year for his work in equine ther­apy with 1992 Mel­bourne Cup win­ner Subzero.

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