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.’’
Coca-Cola Amatil has confirmed it will be pressing on with its $100 million redevelopment of SPC Ardmona.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
A snake was spotted this afternoon.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
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.