As he proudly shows off his new house in Bangalow, whizzing from room to room in his wheelchair, it’s obvious that life is looking up for the quadriplegic and his family.
In April 2007, Richard was injured during a rugby union match in Byron Bay. He broke his neck and spent the next 10 months in hospital in Brisbane.
After his release from hospital, Richard, his wife Kylie and their daughter Clover, now six, spent 12 months in a government-provided disability house in Beenleigh.
It was during this time that the Bangalow community rallied and established the Richard Allen 14 fund.
Thanks to the fund, which has raised $200,000, the generosity of the local community, tradespeople and individuals in Australia and New Zealand (the NZ community raised $50,000), Richard and his family have recently moved into their own purpose-built house in Bangalow.
And while they are still getting settled and there are still many boxes to be unpacked, the house has already made a huge difference to their lives.
“It’s just awesome,” Richard said.
“To have the love and support of the Bangalow and New Zealand communities, the rugby fraternity and people from throughout Australia, well it’s so overwhelming.”
Kylie said the family’s spirits had been lifted ‘a foot-and-a-half’.
“It feels like our journey as a family is really just beginning, even though Richard and I have been married for nine years,” she said. “We can be a proper family here, there’s so much room, and the house has been built to accommodate Richard’s wheelchair no matter where he goes.
“We’ve still got some work to do and we eventually plan to convert the double garage into a gym and office, but it’s a beautiful house and we just love it.
“We can wheel Richard’s bed out into the under-cover outdoor area and he can see the garden, Clover and I have our own space and our own bathrooms and of course Richard has his own space as well.
“Words just cannot express how appreciative we are of the efforts of so many people.”
To celebrate the completion of the new house, the Richard Allen fund is inviting everyone to a house warming and thank you party at the house (7 Paperbark Place) on Saturday (Nov 28) from 1pm-6pm.
Food and drink will be provided, there will be tours of the house and entertainment for children.
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