In 1990, Neil was an active teenager (17 years old) playing as many sports as possible at school and doing well enough to represent a number of codes to national events. He was head boy, house captain, school council chairman and proud owner of an escort bought with his own hard earned cash.
Being watched and promoted through the levels by those who believed in him was humbling and certainly excited him of the future he hoped to carve around number one passion - playing rugby.
An early season match with mates of the Tongariro Rugby Club under 19’s against Kio Kio - the big boys from farming country had the mettle on the Tongariro Club forward pack and while driving a maul over for a try Neil attempted to collapse it. He went down awkwardly their forward pack fell over him resulting in C5/6 dislocation and a verdict serving life with complete C5 Tetraplegia.
After spending the following 5.5 months in Otara Spinal Unit, Neil went back to school the following year to finish secondary studies in a motorized wheelchair. He then went to University to achieve a Bachelor in Technology majoring in Product Development and on to employment at a Sports Trust – Sport Manawatu.
During this period Neil wanted to be as independent as possible in all facets of life. The goals were simple including using a self propelled wheelchair, cooking, driving and employment. His drive went as far as designing a home gym to work out on to get physically up to it. All years in the making, he cheekily smirks at them being achieved.
More recent achievements have been around hand cycling – recently completing circumnavigation events of Lake Taupo and Mt Taranaki (160 & 150 km’s respectively) In 2013 he completed world firsts with tetraplegics Catriona Williams and Rob Creagh hand cycling over 800 km’s across Tibet and Nepal up to Mt Everest Base Camp.
He keeps challenging himself through coaching a relatively new wheelchair rugby club – Bay of Plenty (after over 20yrs of playing it!), chairing Parafed BOP, being on local government advisory committee and through property projects. He has a young family of two girls and a honey woman wife Sarah – I think they call it – ‘living the dream’.
The Foundation has supported Neil since 1990 helping to achieve the above at a number of different levels. An active member of NZRF family Neil has enjoyed being included in the rugby community attending many of the Foundations’ events. His current occupation is managing director of Cudby Homes. To see the video of his work – Click Here. Or to link to their website Click Here.
To see the video clip of his work Click Here, or to link to their website Click Here.