Home' Capricornus Quarterly : CQ July 2015 Contents 9
A B C ’s Australian Stor y broadcast to the nation Gayle Shann’s story 13
years ago, when the RGS Past Student suffered devastating injuries
in a farming accident which left her with no right arm and a severely
injured left arm. CQ’s Rachael McDonald caught up with Gayle as the
national broadcaster presented a follow-up in June to one of its most
popular stories, again capturing the attention and support of a nation.
In August 2002 Gayle Shann (nee
Atkinson, RGS 1992) was renewing the
fence around the house at Cantaur Park, two
hours north of Clermont, when her glove
caught on a release pin and she became
entangled in the post hole digger’s shaft.
Now almost 13 years on from that day Gayle
still faces health battles. Ongoing headaches,
caused by a spinal fluid leak, have resulted
in numerous surgeries. The last one was
in December and she is due for a follow-up
MRI as this publication goes to press.
Standing by her side, helping her every
step of the way, has been husband, Mac.
“ Looking back it’s incredible to think
we have been married for three years
of my old life and now 13 years in
the state I am now,’’ Gayle said.
“It’s been a long process. I’ve come along in
leaps and bounds. Watching that old footage on
Australian Story I can see how far I’ve come.”
Gayle and Mac Shann still live on Cantaur
Park, working performance horses and
the family’s Droughtmaster cattle.
“At the start it was just about getting
by day-to-day. Life was slow and difficult.
Now we’ve figured out our routine and
our lives are back to being ver y busy.
Keeping busy is good for both of us.”
The couple are with each
other all of the time.
“ Lucky for me Mac wanted to put his
hand up and wanted to help so we didn’t
have to move. It ’s not easy and there
are times it’s really draining on Mac.’’
But they are both from the land, from
which they draw their strength. Gayle
was raised near the headwaters of the
Burdekin River and Mac near Collinsville.
“It was very important for us to stay on
the land,’’ said Gayle, who arrived at RGS
midway through Year 9 and was Dux of
Agriculture Studies in 1991 and 1992.
The School years were some of the few
years Gayle had ever lived in town.
“It was a great School and I had
a great group of friends.’’
But straight out of School Gayle was back
to what she always wanted to do: contract
mustering and helping on the family property.
“ I don’t know any different,’’ Gayle said.
“Before the accident we did so much
work together in getting the place tidied up
and set up. We did all that work together
and couldn’t walk away from it.’’
Despite physical limitation
Gayle works on the land.
Mac has welded handles low down on the
slides in the cattle yard to enable Gayle to
use them and she has also learnt to work
the drafting gates with her feet. Friends
have also modified work vehicles so she
can get around the property, either on a
4WD quad bike or in other vehicles.
“ It has helped give me some independence.’’
Gayle just keeps taking each day
as it comes and continues her love
of living in rural Queensland.
Teaching is “ a lot of work ”
Hayley Quinn (RGS
2008, left) received a
on her former
School in Term 2.
duties as part of
her Post Graduate
teaching studies the former boarder said: “It ’s
weird...Until you’re standing at the front of the
classroom teaching students you don’t realise
what ’s behind everything with teaching – the
planning and frameworks. It ’s a lot of work.’’
We weren’t allowed
to look at girls then
1924-1933) still has
of his long years at
his 100th birthday
in Canberra on 3 June, started Kindergarten
at the Rockhampton Girls Grammar School
before moving to The Rockhampton Grammar
School the following year. Here he would stay
until his final year in 1933. “ I still have very
good memories of the School. I started in the
Primary section, I recall my teacher’s name was
Cook (W. R. Cook). He was a great teacher. I
remember the Headmaster [Kellow]. He was
a good Headmaster and teacher [and] he was
pretty good with that strap. Quite frequently
there were lots of goats on [the] grounds. I
also remember the girls school would visit on
a Wednesday afternoon and march down the
driveway. We weren’t allowed to look at them.’’
Happy Birthday David!
Flying vet comes full circle
Letchford, who led
the School in the first
year as it returned
(1977) says he found
his own personal
faith as an RGS
boarder. The flying
veterinarian, minister, husband and father of four
loves Kununurra in north- east Western Australia,
his home since 1992. “ It ’s a fascinating area. It
has scenic diversity and a diverse economy with
cattle, irrigation, mining and tourism. I found the
people up here were very innovative with a can
do attitude.” Peter, whose practice covers WA
and part of NT, learned to fly at RGS. He recently
needed to pick- up another plane, whilst his was
out of commission, and “the plane’s rego looked
really familiar.” It turned out to be “the old plane I
did my first solo flight in [at RGS].” Peter checked
the log book and sure enough found it was on 21
July 1977. Talk about coming full circle, Peter....
You can read more about Past Students in the
Past Student Association’s next newsletter, The
Grammarian, available at www.rgs.qld.edu.au/psa
Past Students’ News
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