Motivation keeps the dream alive

By Kassie Hopkins

Bruce Etherington on holidays with his loving family at Movie World (Queensland)

Motivation keeps the dream alive.

Bruce Etherington, an aspiring pilot through no fault of his own lost the use of legs and in an instant his life was changed for not only himself but his family.

To the outside world Bruce appears to be your typical family orientated man, married for 28 years, a happy father of two children, daughter Claire and son Richard. He is the owner of a beautiful home and established a successful job at Helinuigini ltd. What is not known about this 51 year old is that less than a decade ago, he was struggling to pay the bills due to his serious accident which rendered him paralyzed.

Fate dealt Bruce a bad hand in 2001, when he fell down a set of stairs, after finishing his meal at a local restaurant in Singapore. This resulted in two crushed disks in his spinal cord, which meant that he had to undergo two severe operations in Singapore, due to the seriousness of the accident Bruce was unable to come back to Australia for 3 weeks.

“If I can remember anything, it is the pain of having to rebuild my life, I had a clear direction and then suddenly it felt as though it was taken from me”. Bruce unable to walk for two months due to his injuries, had to undergo serious reconstruction therapy, “it was an incredibly painful and frustrating process and in all honestly sometimes, it left me doubting myself, but all you can do in these situations is move forward”. He reveals that the treatment process was excruciating, it also had unexpected effects on his family, as they found themselves confronted with new stresses and problems to overcome.

One of the toughest problems that presented itself was the loss of soul income, having to adjust to such a significant shift in their lives put an emotional strain on the family, “one of the hardest things about my accident was knowing that I could no longer provide the life that my family deserves, I can even remember not being able to pay my electricity bill and having my family shower at my sister’s house”. He confessed that he was unemployed for 9 months.
“One thing that I didn’t want to do after my accident was to let the situation beat me, I wanted to be a strong role model for my family, and at the time the best way to do this was to go back to work and start all over again”. After a tough nine months a great opportunity presented itself at Sydney helicopters, where he was employed for five years until Bruce was hired as head pilot at Helinuigini ltd little did he know he would later be promoted to Chief executive officer in a matter of years.

“My family is use to not having me around as often as I would like, because of work commitments… before the accident I was living and working in Singapore for one month and then I would be home for another month”. This distance from his family continues even today as he currently lives in Papua New Guinea for three weeks and then is home with his family for one week. “Every time I come home something is different, it’s hard to keep up especially with my kids, my daughter has recently turned 18 and suddenly she’s coming home at three in the morning”. However deep down Bruce and his family agree that he has come a long way, and overcome many hurdles to provide a fantastic life for his family.

NOTE : The image in this character sketch was provided by Bruce on his family holiday. This is because I was unable to take my own photo as Bruce was in Papua New Guinea. 

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