Looking for life’s inner spark


As a medically retired first responder for twenty years, I have had the experience of moving from the busy urban areas of the western suburbs of Sydney to the NSW North Coast. This transition and my previous career have allowed me to witness and personally experience a lot of life’s adventures.

I have had the privilege of engaging in conversations with people who have suffered from various traumatic events, including natural disasters and personal tragedies.

As a former LifeLine Crisis-Supporter, I thoroughly enjoyed conversations with people. A mentor to this beautiful service taught me the gift of looking for that inner spark within everyone and working together to search, explore and reignite that joy, happiness, or sense of achievement.

“What advice would you give your best mate going through this situation?”, I would ask. What we would discover is that we as individuals are often harsher and expect more of ourselves, whilst also giving less kindness to ourselves. But having emotions is all part of being human. Making mistakes is something we teach our kids, and something to learn from.

In 2022, I received a diagnosis of cumulative Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Receiving a diagnosis was not a point of shame or weakness for me. Instead, I view it as an invisible badge that I now wear. This badge gives me calmness at times in explaining to myself, my close friends, and my family why my behaviour, moods, actions, or nightmares may be riding with me on this rollercoaster too.

Going through the medical retirement process was a stressful process. Losing your workforce, workmates and sense of identity was extremely overwhelming. Exercise and seeking professional help from my psychologist and doctor helped me, inch by inch through the process.

Unfortunately, I suffered a serious mountain bike accident, fracturing my C4 & C5 in my spine. But at the same time, I was extremely fortunate and knew that time, professional advice from my doctor, physiotherapist, and exercise-sports conditioning coach, helped me on the road to recovery where I am today.

While I was recovering, I kept my mind busy designing a children’s book. And then a year to the date of my bike accident, my book “Why Fun Always Wins” was published.

The rural town that I live in has been hit by multiple disasters – fires, floods, storms and drought – which is when I connected with Samantha Osborne from RAMHP. She was able to help our region in times of need. During these natural disasters, I set up a community social media support group, The Health Project.au, aimed at the wellbeing of community members, men’s mental health and correspondence between government groups and the community I live in.

I am now an Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association Ambassador. My hope is to discover what else the world has to offer and where I can help. I may no longer be the first person through the door to help after a traumatic incident, but believe I’d still like to help in a way to connect, empathise and encourage someone to seek help when needed.