Jimmy Kerlin with his neighbour Stan Sandy, who often keeps a watchful eye on him.
Jimmy Kerlin with his neighbour Stan Sandy, who often keeps a watchful eye on him. Emma Channon

Jim looks forward to weekly chat

LIVING as a paraplegic, Jimmy Kerlin sometimes has to rely a lot on the good will of others.

The 80-year-old, who moved into Warwick eight years ago, says life has been made much easier through the help of his friendly neighbour and the Red Cross service.

"It's a lonely life - but I get home help and I've got a lovely neighbour," he said.

"I can just get around the house with crutches.

"If I go anywhere, I have a wheelchair and Doug Cutmore is my volunteer - he takes me and helps me move about."

Mr Kerlin was educated at Downlands College, where he discovered his strengths as a budding half-back and set his sights set on the Queensland rugby team.

This was all before he contracted polio and his life was turned around at just 18 years of age.

He said he began to get aches behind his ears and knees before he rolled out of bed one morning and found he couldn't get up.

"It was tough getting used to being disabled at that age," he said.

"I got a bit of movement in one leg and I shouldn't have done it but I learnt to ride horses and tractors again and stayed on the land."

The former Killarney farmer said he had to sell his property and move to Warwick in 2004 and began using the Red Cross TeleChat service a few years after that.

With the closest of his five children living at Swanfels, and others in Sydney and Brisbane, he said the free service made him feel less isolated.

"I was nominated by someone and I've been getting phone calls each week," he said.

"Gail is the person I speak to and she's great - she's really gentle on the phone and kind and compassionate.

"It makes you feel safe and that if something happened, they'd know. It makes you feel secure and not neglected."

Mr Kerlin said if he didn't answer the phone, Gail rang his neighbour, Stan Sandy, straight away.

"He's just so understanding," he said.

"If I need anything, he helps me out and comes over and checks on me too."

 

TeleChat

  • Free service offered by Red Cross volunteers.
  • Initiative began in Warwick in November 2011.
  • People who have signed up receive weekly phone calls from volunteers to chat about anything they wish for about 20 minutes.
  • Call Red Cross on 1300 885 698.

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