CW - What has caused you to be in a chair and when did it happen?
AW - In 1981 I had a fluke fall up skiing and nosedived into a rock under the snow and dislocated my neck.
CW - Are you a paraplegic or tetraplegic?
AW - I am a C6/7 tetraplegic. One hand works well, one is on half speed but one is all you need.
CW - Tell us about any surgery that you have had since your accident.
AW - I've resisted it mainly but did have a skin graft on my backside about 13 years ago for a pressure area ...so far so good.
CW - Tell us about your fitness regime.
AW - I have a tracker attachable hand cycle which I use 3-4 times a week. It's fantastic, opens up my lungs, I use it on walking tracks around Queenstown and on back roads.
CW - Tell us about your support network, especially family, friends, medical.
AW - I have a housekeeper 3 hours a week. I have a 23yr old daughter, some great close friends, a sister and brother. Dr Antony at Burwood hospital has always been exceptional no matter what the circumstance, and of course ACC for help with health solutions, OT's, physio's and hospitalisations.
CW - Are you currently employed, or how do you spend your days?
AW - I am self employed as a painter (Artist) and it has sustained me and my family for about 20 years. I do it most days even on holiday. I mow the lawns on my property. I like building things - boats, furniture, campervan etc.
CW - Tell us about any specific modifications to your home or place of work, especially those beneficial to others in chairs.
AW - My house was altered and made very easy 6 months after my crash. All the heights flow into each other in the house and into the garden. The doors are all huge and I can get my knees under all the tables, sinks etc. The bathroom is tiled with a central drain hole, concrete plaster walls, the ceiling in the bathroom is glass like a conservatory. The house plans were done by Ian Athfield of Wellington and embraces the sun. I have a big deck out the front over a pond, a creek, big lawn, fruit trees and an exercise track down the hill to another pond. I have a studio open to the public in my house. I have a vege garden and have someone in for 3-4 days a month to maintain things I can't do. I only have a cell phone in the car otherwise it might be too precious and easy!!!
CW - What are your goals for 2008 and the future?
AW - My goals are to survive the current financial mayhem under my own steam, have my usual exhibitions this year and next year and continue painting and selling, reading a lot and enjoying my family and surrounds.
CW - What is the one piece of equipment that you just couldn't do without?
AW - The most obvious piece of equipment is a car which opens up a huge do-able world. The other is my attachable hand cycle which I go out in the evenings.
CW - What has been one of your most satisfying achievements since being in a chair?
AW - My most satisfying moment was jettisoning my weekly ACC income and surviving by my own efforts financially and utilising my skills and abilities to make my own living with its ups and downs in exactly the same way as everyone else.
CW - Who inspires you and why?
AW - John Britten and Tim Wallis. The chilly wind of negativeness failed to dislodge the dreams and magic achievements of these two remarkable enthusiasts.
CW - When a cure for SCI is found, what will be the first thing you will do?
AW - Find out if it actually applies to me.
CW - Is there anything else that my be of interest to our readers?
AW - When it boils down to it, your head and your heart aren't fettered by a wheelchair, I consider myself lucky. I have fallen in love and been loved with intensity by a few wonderful women in my 27 years in a wheelchair and I find myself also working through all life's cliches which is a worry! I have fathered a beautiful talented daughter now aged 23, when I was told on being confined to a wheelchair "YOU CAN'T AND YOU SHOULDN'T". Well I eventually did 5 years later thanks to Dr Angelo Antony and Dr Al McLean and the wonders of artificial insemination and I regard that as my Miracle. It has enriched my life and brings out the best in you regardless of whether your legs good or not. My physical defects aren't the end of the world, I just get on with things as well as I can and I don't dwell on what I can't do and I can have a lucky, happy life...and I do. I don't want to be cocooned because I'm in a wheelchair. My friends had my 60th birthday party in the Siberia hut in a hanging valley up the Wilkin River with serious West Coast rain. I've flown my microlite just enough to scare myself.....I like canoeing...music....life.....