Gary Gray could have been forgiven for taking time for himself after having emergency eye surgery in 2006. But, no, he has used his recovery to give his time to others.RIAHN SMITH May 22, 2014 5:46am
Busy schedule: Former Wanganui Park Secondary College teacher Gary Gray is using his recovery from emergency eye surgery to volunteer up to six days a week.
The day began like any other.
It was 2006 and Gary Gray arrived at Wanganui Park Secondary College to teach his students, just like he had every school day for the past 16 years.
He organised the teachers, taught his lessons and when searching for an order book at the end of the day complained to a colleague of a slight soreness in his eye.
Mr Gray was blind and having emergency surgery to save his sight just hours later.
He had suffered tears in his retinas — the ‘‘screens’’ at the back of your eyes that help form visual images — and had been plunged into darkness.
‘‘It was a very scary time. I was pretty dismal, I thought maybe I’ll only make it to 60 or so and that was only a few years to go,’’ Mr Gray said.
‘‘I thought, ‘I can’t work, I can’t use a computer, I can’t drive, I can’t watch TV, I’ll never be able to read again’ — it didn’t look good.’’
Mr Gray’s eyesight was mostly restored after numerous operations and nearly a year of rehabilitation with the support of Vision Australia.
He sees in double, each eye reflecting the scene in front of him distinct from the other.
While his vision remains distorted, Mr Gray’s insight into the value of support he received was clear — and significantly changed his view of the future.
Since his recovery, Mr Gray has dedicated his time to volunteering — he does wood-working with Vision Australia clients and makes toys for donation at Woodturners of the Goulburn Valley.
He has also played an instrumental role in establishing an assortment of Men’s Sheds across the region and is involved in weekly working bees at Shepparton’s new Australian Botanical Gardens.
His latest foray into community work gets him up at dawn to butter toast for hungry children at Shepparton East Primary School’s new breakfast program.
It is a busy schedule.
‘‘I’ve got something on nearly every day. My only weekend is Monday,’’ Mr Gray said with a laugh.
‘‘I’ve always been one to want to make a bit of a difference and getting involved with volunteering was a way to be appreciated again. It really became the silver lining in an otherwise dark sky.
‘‘But it hasn’t been too holier than thou. It started as a way of thanking Vision (Australia) for all the work they did for me. I don’t know what I would have done without their support.’’
And his proudest achievement since venturing into the unpaid-work sector?
Seeing how the Men’s Shed movement has helped keep a man out of trouble with the law.
‘‘There’s a guy that comes here who has an acquired brain injury and has been in and out of jail,’’ Mr Gray said.
‘‘Because of the work he’s done here, and the good he’s done for the community, he’s been permanently out of jail for about six years.
‘‘He doesn’t have family in the area, so I’ve been his support system. We’ve been able to show him his contribution and his ideas are valid and make him feel worthwhile.
‘‘You can just see a huge difference — he’s my number one success.’’
They may be small and rare, but they attract hordes of loyal enthusiasts from American chat show hosts to Shepparton car buffs.
The 2014 Yarrawonga Mulwala Multisport Festival has been hailed a huge success by organisers and participants alike.
The fifth annual King Billy Retreat Open Garden Party will be held at Rushworth on Saturday and Sunday, October 25-26, from 10 am to 4 pm.
Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs John Geary will attend a memorial for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment (Vietnam) Association.
A former Rochester resident is helping women with their confidence and their horses.
Accusations of bullying, disrespect and dangerous conduct.
And the school's best all-rounder for this year.
Finley's Mark Whiley has been traded from the GWS Giants to Carlton - the club he has supported all his life.
District residents are being invited to enjoy Oktooberfest celebrations at Tooborac Hotel and Brewery.
Momentum builds for the greatest show in Cobram, with young and old expected to lap up family attractions in sunny conditions.
Water users have welcomed the governments' announcement of a $350 million package for new irrigation efficiency programs in NSW, but say water availability is in need of improvement.
Farmers and anyone interested in big boys’ toys will be fascinated to check out an unmanned helicopter in action at an Ardmona orchard.
Judge comments, If I were single, I'd marry this steak!
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.