Stories - September 13, 2022
Life, legs and lessons
When you have a yarn to big Russell, he tells it straight.
Like the fact that his education is based on the school of life; you win some and you lose some.
Standing taller than his six foot two inches, the 64-year-old former soldier, truckie, consultant and breeder of high-quality show-winning Clydesdale horses, has a strong affinity to Ned Kelly which resonates back to one of his best school achievements; producing an in-depth project on Ned Kelly.
“People have different views and I accept that. Ned is a hero of mine. He looked after his people, their rights and shaped what I believe is our Australian spirit. Ned, the Eureka Stockade and the diggers at Gallipoli, I have a great interest,” Russell said.
So when his latest prothesis arrived at his Waaia property he was almost speechless when he saw the wonderful art-work that accompanied his new leg – a tribute to Ned Kelly.
You have to go back to the 70s when as a young truckie, three tonnes of steel came crashing down on Russell. He had his left leg partially amputated, his right leg broken and breaks and fractures in his neck and back.
It was a long recovery, but one built on mateship and support. It has also meant Russell has needed around 15 “legs” across the years.
“I was part of the Free Limbs Scheme, that was eventually replaced by the NDIS. Throughout my time I either got a new leg through the scheme and on other occasions had to pay for them myself. In some cases I had to take out personal loans to cover the cost, I’d go to the bank and the manager would say are you here to get a new leg Russell?” he said.
Russell prides himself on the fact that he earned everything he owns, so when he was told he had to go on the NDIS, he was sceptical.
“I am thankful I got to deal with Nicole and Branden from Intereach and Travis my Occupational Therapist, they have been really good and have guided me through the system,” Russell said.
“The scheme has helped me no doubt. You have to persevere and it is important that I have been able to build good relationships, that has helped as well. I can’t fault the support.”
His latest “leg” produced at Albury Prosthetics and Orthotics Service depicts a “wanted” Ned Kelly on the calf and a silhouette image on the shin. The artwork is often part of the service and a great conversation starter.
“I love it. And it is a talking point, I am happy to talk to people about my leg, I think it’s important.
“It certainly gets traffic to stop and people talking, my grandkids love it.
“It’s all about the relationship and I have a great relationship with the Albury team, and have done so for years. The leg is the “Mack Truck” of legs, I look forward to showing it off over the summer. It’s a ripper.”