Pedalling for men­tal health

Bris­bane dad will ride 1200km to sup­port RFDS

The Western Star - - RURALWEEKL­Y - AN­DREA DAVY An­[email protected]­ral­

BY THE time you are read­ing this, Don Chan­dler will be psych­ing him­self up for the last leg of his 1237km bike ride from Bris­bane to Lon­greach.

The 53-year-old fa­ther of four was feel­ing ner­vous and ap­pre­hen­sive about em­bark­ing on the seven-day RideWest jour­ney but said the big­ger pic­ture of sup­port­ing the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice – and in par­tic­u­lar their work help­ing bring men­tal health re­sources to re­mote Queens­land – was fu­elling him on.

A few days be­fore hit­ting the road, Mr Chan­dler told the Ru­ral Weekly he thought the last leg would be the most chal­leng­ing.

“It’s a big ride, 240km,” he said.

“But I have been told the adrenalin from the fact we are nearly there spurs you on.

“There is also the great lure of a quiet beer at the Well­shot, which I think by then I will be look­ing for­ward to.”

Al­though Mr Chan­dler has made a ca­reer for him­self in Bris­bane, work­ing in the cen­tre of the cap­i­tal city’s CBD, he has strong ties to ru­ral Queens­land.

“I grew up the youngest of four boys on a sheep and cat­tle prop­erty near Bar­cal­dine,” he said.

“I went to board­ing school in Bris­bane and ended up study­ing and stay­ing down here.”

Men­tal health and sui­cide, as it has for many Aus­tralians, has touched Mr Chan­dler per­son­ally.

He is ded­i­cat­ing the ride to Pru Chan­dler, his niece whose life was cut short at 30 af­ter a long strug­gle with anx­i­ety and men­tal health is­sues.

“She will be my in­spi­ra­tion along the way,” he said.

“It’s been a big part of my fo­cus.

“Her fam­ily are right be­hind it. They will be in Lon­greach to watch us ride in.”

Sadly this month, Mr Chan­dler also lost a school­mate to sui­cide.

The death left him shocked but more de­ter­mined to fundraise for the RFDS.

The idea for RideWest was founded in 2009 when Queens­land busi­ness leader Les Han­cock learnt the sui­cide rate of out­back Queens­land gra­ziers was 30 per cent higher than their coastal coun­ter­parts.

Fast-for­ward to to­day, and the char­ity is close to rais­ing a to­tal of $1 mil­lion for the

❝ I have been told the adrenalin from the fact we are nearly there spurs you on.


The fly­ing doc­tors ser­vice will al­ways hold a spe­cial place in Mr Chan­dler’s heart.

“They re­ally do un­be­liev­able work in chal­leng­ing con­di­tions,” he said.

“If you learn about the peo­ple and places they get to, the sto­ries of re­trieval and sur­vival are ex­tra­or­di­nary.

“They are not like a nor­mal clin­i­cal hospi­tal sit­u­a­tion, they adapt bril­liantly.”

So far Mr Chan­dler has raised more than $20,000 for RideWest on his Ev­ery Day Hero page.

On the site he wrote: “My dear mum, who grew up at Il­fra­combe, said I was a ‘silly old fool’. I sus­pect she may be right.

“Over­all I have had great sup­port but in some cases I think there has been a re­ac­tion of amaze­ment.”

Mr Chan­dler said he had thought about do­ing the ride in the past and he closely watched the team dur­ing the 2016 event on so­cial me­dia.

“I have to con­fess be­cause of my age and fit­ness I al­ways thought it was some­thing that would be well out of my league,” he said.

— Don Chan­dler

“But I got talked into it and as I got closer to mak­ing a com­mit­ment I pushed send and here I am.”

Now af­ter com­plet­ing a “fairly con­sis­tent” train­ing pro­gram, he said he felt fit­ter than he had in 30 years.

“I have lost a bit of weight,” he said.

“The team has been truly won­der­ful. I can tell you they

have pushed me up some hills and there have been days when I have fallen into my car to drive home.”

There is still time to do­nate. Visit www.ridewest20­18. ev­ery­day­­chan­dler.

Keep an eye out for the Ru­ral Weekly’s cov­er­age of the RFDS’s 90 years of ser­vice.


ON POINT: The RideWest crew of Michael Wil­liams, Alex Grif­fiths, An­drew Perkins, Bill Mad­dock, Don Chan­dler and John Slo­man head­ing from Bris­bane to Bar­cal­dine.

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