One In Five

Sunday 29 November 2015, with Katy Gosset & Carol Stiles

Philip Wells at home in Okato, Taranaki

Philip Wells at home in Okato, Taranaki

Photo: Carol Stiles

Nobody told Philip Wells he would never walk again.

He was 15 and in the Otara spinal unit following a rugby tackle that had gone badly wrong. It was 1979.

He says he’ll always remember a particularly awkward ward round.

“I said to the doctor ‘Am I going to be able to ride my motorbike again?’ He didn’t quite answer that question.

“I guess by osmosis you realise that hey, you’re the same as everybody else in here and you probably aren’t going to walk home.”

Philip had sustained a double dislocation of c4, c5 and c6 in his cervical spine. He can move his arms but not his wrists, hands or fingers.

He is entitled to 24 hour support through ACC and manages his own care company.

Philip’s family has been farming in Taranaki for generations and Philip had always wanted to work the land. Now, after years working as a computer programmer, he’s living on and is managing the farm. Philip is also on advisory committees to ACC, to the New Plymouth District Council, and to the Taranaki Base hospital