I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing in my life. There have been highs and there have been terrible lows. My accident tested me to the limit of my physical endurance, and losing my brother David was even harder to bear. But these experiences and many others are what define me — they’ve made me the man I am today.

My accident changed my life but what really transformed it was my determination to use the crisis to create an even better life than I had enjoyed before. Just three years after my accident I learned that I’d been nominated as the 2009 Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year. A number of friends had put my name forward and I thought, what an honour just to be nominated. I went to the ceremony, though I didn’t think I had much chance of winning, especially after reading what everyone else had achieved. So you can imagine my surprise when they announced I had won. People respond to stories of adversity because they remind us of what we are all really capable of and they inspire us, even if only for a moment, to think impossible thoughts about our own life.

As the state winner I was invited along with other award winners to meet the Prime Minister of Australia at the time, Kevin Rudd, at his home. Mr Rudd was introduced to the various guests including cricket legends Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist. As Glenn stepped aside I moved forward and thrust out my prosthetic hand for Mr Rudd to shake . . . and without warning him I then disconnected ...

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