High Achiever: The big­gest chal­lenge of my life Gor­don Innes

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

How work and a com­mit­ment to re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion with Cy­clofit has helped Gor­don Innes’ post-stroke re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

The 58-year-old butcher suf­fered a stroke which left him with­out move­ment on the right side of his body.

It was a mas­sive blow for Innes, a very ac­tive South­lander who loves his fish­ing. ‘I used to work from 7am to 6pm and then come home and do fire­wood, or what­ever. There was al­ways some­thing to be done,’ he said.

‘The stroke took away my right side. You see some peo­ple who aren’t as ac­tive and you won­der “why me”, but that’s just what hap­pens. I’m get­ting my leg back, but it’s been a long, hard road.’

In Novem­ber last year Gor­don’s wife Ther­essa con­tacted Sport South­land’s Ann Rob­bie about the Green Pre­scrip­tion pro­gramme, which is de­signed to help peo­ple who want to be more ac­tive but aren’t sure how to go about it.

‘Ther­essa rang me and asked if there was any­thing we could do to help, be­cause she’d seen other things we’d done for peo­ple.

It was a big “yes” from me,’ Ann said. Ann sug­gested that Gor­don give Cy­cling South­land’s Cy­clofit a try.

Cy­clofit rid­ers ride moun­tain bikes, tri­cy­cles or spe­cially adapted bikes around the flat area in­side the SIT Zero Fees Velo­drome.

The in­door fa­cil­ity pro­vides a safe and con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment for peo­ple of all ages and abil­i­ties to re­dis­cover the joys of rid­ing a bike. With no hills, no ad­verse weather and no traf­fic is­sues to worry about, the pro­gramme has proved pop­u­lar.

Things weren’t straight­for­ward, how­ever.

‘It’s a big chal­lenge – the big­gest chal­lenge of my life.’

Even ne­go­ti­at­ing the two sets of stairs to get into the Velo­drome was dif­fi­cult for Gor­don to start with, but he laughs when he looks back now. ‘Just get­ting in here was a work out and a half,’ Gor­don said.

‘When I first started I was do­ing three or four laps un­til I got a bit fit­ter. I’ve been up to 40 laps at once, which is 10 km, but I was find­ing that I was drag­ging my feet around at my af­ter­noon physio ses­sion,’ Gor­don said.

‘(Cy­cling South­land’s) Bruce Ross was bril­liant, he chucked me on the yel­low tri­cy­cle and sent me out for a cou­ple of laps.’

Ann says Gor­don’s com­mit­ment and hard work has been in­spi­ra­tional. His goal had been to walk unaided and that’s some­thing he achieved re­cently, thanks in part to the work he has done through Green Pre­scrip­tion.

‘He’s al­ways been pretty de­ter­mined to do some­thing. Peo­ple have to be pre­pared to put the work in and, for peo­ple like Gor­don, you don’t mind go­ing the ex­tra mile be­cause you can see how hard they are try­ing.’

Gor­don’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion has in­cluded Cy­clofit, walk­ing and swim­ming and he’s also taken up the sport of boc­cia, a game of skill and strat­egy which is sim­i­lar to lawn bowls and pe­tanque. Af­ter ini­tially strug­gling to cope with his change of cir­cum­stances, Gor­don has set his mind to achiev­ing as much as he can on his road to re­cov­ery.

‘It’s some­thing I’ve got to do now, I’ve got to get back. It’s a big chal­lenge – the big­gest chal­lenge of my life.’


Gor­don went on to cy­cle the 3 km Surf to City along with Mike Hamill (an­other suc­cess story with cere­bral palsy) and Tony McAra who made the TV1 news for GRx (Tony had also had a stroke).

When these three men cy­cled into the park to fin­ish the event spec­ta­tors were hum­bled by their ‘not giv­ing up at­ti­tude.’

Be­low right: Mike Hamill and Gor­don Innes.

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