FROM SUBZERO TO HERO
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 australianoftheyear.org.au
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.