by Frank Debooy

Late afternoon on 7/8/88, 10km short of Kings Canyon in the Northern Territory I rolled a vehicle, ending up a C 5/6 Quadriplegic. After coming into Alice Springs hospital, the Flying Doctor flew me to Adelaide and six weeks later I ended up in the Austin hospital. I took my ordeal very negatively and hard. Some nine months later I came home.

Prior to my injury I had constructed my own home, was building a jet boat and had refurbished a diesel engine. I worked as a foreman at Alcoa, the aluminium smelter, for about 10 years. After my accident I was at a loss as to what I could constructively pursue as a Quadriplegic. 

After visiting a Men’s shed with a carer, Frank realised he could still make things by instructing others

I designed a wheelchair accessible caravan and had it built. On selling that, I purchased a 45-seat school bus and redesigned it as an accessible mobile home, overseeing its construction and obtaining an engineers report. 

In 1997 I completed a small business course through the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme. My dream was to start an accessible boat charter on the bay. But my wife wasn’t sufficiently convinced  to sign any check. I had also passed my coxswain certificate and marine radio licence. In 2009 I completed my Diploma in Building Design & Technology. I loved three dimensional drawing, but failing to get into a drafting career, I looked for another direction to apply my ability.

Frank uses a computer to design, cut and carve his creations.

I was motivated after joining a Men’s shed with a carer, realising I could still get things done by using and instructing others how and what to do, the way I wanted. This led me into purchasing a CNC – a computer numeric control machine, which enables me to cut, carve and shape wood into things I design on my computer.

I reclaimed my shed space and eventually fitted it out with other machinery, brought with funds I made from things I made and sold.

If anyone would like any tips on adaptive woodworking, feel free to reach out: [email protected]

  • June 13, 2024

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