Legacy saved my life

Legacy saved my life - Legacy

11 May 2013

Andrew, Northmead NSW

I was 4 when my father was killed during Cyclone Tracy in Darwin in 1974, He was one of two sailors who were tragically killed that night after their Patrol boat sank. So I only really have a few scant memories of my father and because of that, I hold them dear. Legacy took an active interest in our family afterwards. My sister and brother accompanied me to Parramatta Legacy every Friday night. A white Legacy mini-bus would pull up at our house at the same time, and we would go out to meet it, dressed in our freshly ironed Legacy T-shirts and shorts. The boys would play sports and girls would learn to cook and sew. It sounds rather stereotyped now, but as a boy growing up without a father, I had never been taught to play any kind of sport, or even catch a ball! So it was a huge learning exercise, In fact, it was the first of many, thanks to Legacy.

Because I moved through my early teenage years, and life had become ultimately more difficult, I came to rely on Legacy. I had few friends at school, was picked on and spent a great deal of my time miserable, lonely and depressed. I hated who I was and could see no way of my circumstances. Life was nothing more than just enduring one week to the next.

When I was 12, Legacy arranged for two holidays for me to attend during the summer school holidays. The first was a 7 day camp at Myuna Bay on the Central Coast, prior to Christmas, and the other was a 10 day boys camp at Mt Keira near Wollongong in mid January. After the first year, I was absolutely hooked! I had an absolute ball. When I attended the camps, I suddenly had friends. Other kids who were in the same situation as me, all having lost a father. I developed a rapport with them, as they did with me. And I met people who would grow to become lifelong friends. While my circumstances throughout the year failed to improve, I at least had something to look forward to, at the end of the year,

I read today about teenage suicide, and it upsets me terribly. Because I have no doubt in my mind, that had I not had my 17 wonderful days of summer each year to look forward to, I may have joined the tragic statistics. Because of that, I have always told people that Legacy quite literally saved my life, and I have been forever appreciative since,

In later years, when I became too old to attend as a camper, I returned to Wollongong to help out. And that experience gave me an insight into the person I wanted to be, as an adult. It showed me a lot of qualities I had that I had never known about because I had never been given the opportunity to demonstrate them. I learned about empathy for others and caring about others. About friendship and respect. And realised that despite my unpopular and lonely childhood, I was a natural and caring leader - a trait that led me into nursing.

I never downplay the influence that Legacy had in my life growing up, and how it shaped me into the person I am today. It is a truly wonderful organisation, that is run by truly wonderful people. I will always be sad when I think of how I lost my father so young, but the silver lining that came with Legacy is something I will never forget.

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