STUART Timms was a fit, healthy, young pro-BMX rider until a freak accident turned his life and the life of his family upside down.
The then 19-year old Stuart had moved to Perth to work in a BMX store when he dove into a sandbank at the beach, leaving him without the use of his arms and legs.
Emma Jones, Stuart’s cousin, moved back to Bendigo to help her family look after him, and she said he has struggled with the isolation of his new circumstances.
“Some days he might have a good day but others he doesn’t want to move or get out of the house,” she said.
Ms Jones has organised a fund-raising gig “Stu Fest” on December 1 at Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre in order to raise much-needed funds for the care of Stuart, but more importantly, to reunite Stuart with his friends.
“All of his friends have drifted off a bit since the accident, they are all getting on with their lives,” she said.
“Even if the gig was just a chance for all of his old friends to get together and have a good time that would be great.”
Ms Jones said because Stuart’s accident was not on government property the family does not receive a lot of financial compensation from the government.
“If you have an accident on a road you are entitled to a government pay-out, but Stuart was unlucky as it was in the ocean,” she said.
“His bed alone cost $10,000; a pair of specially-tailored pants costs $200, he also has a special bathroom installed. It all costs a lot of money.”
“Stu Fest” features six local bands; The Steins, Order from Chaos, Old Violet, To the Rescue, Soundhole, KONTACT, and DJ Leon Keeley.
Order from Chaos band member Andrew Merga said the gig would be a good chance to get together for a good cause.
“If we can do anything, we’ll do what we can to get this boy up and about,” he said.
Order from Chaos guitarist Adrian Davaereaux said the local bands all had the same motivation for taking part in “Stu Fest”.
“It’s all of the bands’ priorities to be trying to raise as much money as we can for Stu because we realise how expensive all his care is,” he said.
Stuart, not one to hog the limelight, said he was excited about the prospect of raising the profile of his mate’s bands.
“I’ve got some mates coming down from Melbourne that I’ve not seen in a while so it will be good to get everyone together.”
Stuart still harbours ambitions of getting back on the bike; he said his rehabilitation sessions in Melbourne - the WALKON program - have helped him develop the muscles he still has the use of.
“My rehab has been good and I’ve been looking into one of those mountain bike hand bikes,” he said.
Stuart’s mother Pam Timms said although Stuart’s situation has at times been difficult and emotionally draining for the whole family, Stuart was finally turning a corner.
“I think he has become more accepting of it in the past couple of months, he is brighter and seems a lot happier,” she said.
An integral part of Stuart’s happiness is his ability to fend for himself and not become house bound.
Mrs Timms said the family has been looking into a battery-assisted kayak as well as the hand bike.
“The hardest thing for Stuart is not being able to do a great deal after being such an active young man,” she said.
Stuart still retains his independence, living with friends in Golden Square, and Pam hopes these new devices and the prospect of employment next year will give him the autonomy he desires.
“Stu Fest” is supported by local bottle shops and begins at 5pm on Saturday, December 1, running through until midnight.
Entry is $20 and there will be promotional items to be won in a raffle.
Ms Jones, the chief organiser of “Stu Fest”, said the idea was a fundraiser but also a celebration of Stuart.
“Even if we make a small amount of money, it can go towards making another memory for Stuart,” she said.
-- Stu Fest will be held at the Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre on Saturday, December 1, at 5pm. It features the bands The Stiens, To the Rescue, Soundhole, Old Violet and Order From Chaos. The event is for people over the age of 18. Entry is $20.