It took a broken back for Luke to find himself

GREAT RECOVERY: Luke Olds has taken on a new career as a restaurant manager after a broken back ended his concreting days.
GREAT RECOVERY: Luke Olds has taken on a new career as a restaurant manager after a broken back ended his concreting days. Iain Curry

A CALOUNDRA man, who broke his back after falling down a cliff three years ago, has become an inspiration after fighting his way back into the workforce.

Luke Olds was unable to return to his job as a concreter after he broke four vertebrae in his back when he slipped at Gardiners Falls, Maleny.

He spent 12 months recovering. He suffered emotionally and became addicted to serious painkillers.

"I was in a real bad place, personally, just really down and out and really thought I had no future," Mr Olds said yesterday.

He was determined not to let his predicament get the better of him.

He was fortunate to be handed a lifeline by friend, Shane Austin, a business partner of Allan Langer and John Crane, who together gave him a start as a waiter at Alfie's Mooo Char and Bar.

"He was a big help when I was down and out; always coming over, giving me chats, and trying to get me out of the house," he said.

Mr Olds was trained on the job by Leigh Kearns and was soon shift manager.

He was later offered a job by Hemant Dua, the owner of Saltwater Restaurant at Kings Beach, and is now the establishment's manager, a position he would never have expected in his wildest dreams.

"I didn't think I was capable of doing something else, definitely not working with people," Mr Olds said.

"I am rapt with how I'm going at the moment, I couldn't be happier."

Chris Taylor, an employment consultant with the Australian Red Cross, said Luke was an inspiration.

"He's a very capable young man. He came across as someone who wanted to get straight back into it," Mr Taylor said.

"We see a lot of people, who feel sorry for themselves and don't take the initiative to get back into work, but Luke didn't let it get the better of him.

"He saw it as an opportunity to do something different."

Mr Olds now hopes to open his own restaurant.

"We'll get there one day now," he said. "I'd like to think if I've come this far, I can go further."

Topics:  disability editors picks injury

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