INSPIRING: Sam Bailey, with his wife Jenny, will visit Stanthorpe to speak to students and also attendees at the Chaplaincy Dinner.
INSPIRING: Sam Bailey, with his wife Jenny, will visit Stanthorpe to speak to students and also attendees at the Chaplaincy Dinner. Contributed

'Jump fence' and be inspired by speaker

LIFE can smack you in the face and throw you a curve ball, but for Sam Bailey, he's used his own battles to change lives.

The inspirational speaker, author and Croppa Creek farmer will visit Stanthorpe as the guest speaker at the coming chaplaincy dinner where he's hoping to help people "jump the fence”.

He'll also visit schools in the hopes of inspiring the younger generation - a practice to which he's grown accustomed since his life was altered decades ago.

"All I ever wanted to be was a farmer. I had my life planned from a pretty early age,” Mr Bailey said.

His plan was on track until an unfortunate series of events turned the plan on its head.

"At the age of 19, second year out of school, I was jackarooing up in the Northern Territory. I climbed into a car one afternoon with three mates and I found out 15 minutes later your life can change in a split second.”

After Mr Bailey came to on the side of the road, his fate was apparent to him almost immediately.

"The car rolled, didn't have a seatbelt on and I was thrown out the back window. I knew straight away.

"I said to a couple who'd pulled over 'God I hope I don't spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair'.”

He wouldn't get his wish, resigned to a life as a quadriplegic. He's been left with little use of his arms and hands and paralysed from the waist down.

He concedes he endured some dark days, but a chance meeting turned his life around for good.

"Life will crash tackle us all at some stage. Once the dust settles though, it presents a few options.”

Through grit Sam battled back, made some changes on the farm, to his vehicles, even learnt to fly. His story caught the attention of ABC and a love story ensued.

"I met a girl called Jenny Black who was with ABC radio in Tamworth. We eventually fell madly in love with each other.”

After their tale aired on Australian Story, a whole new world was opened up.

"I started to realise maybe I had a story to help people.”

He started doing speaking tours, which he continues 17 years later. He also tried his hand at writing, releasing the best-selling book Head Over Heels.

"I've always used an old bush saying and that's 'jumping the fence'. If it all goes pear-shaped in your own paddock jump over the fence and give thought to the turmoil that's happening all over the world.

"You'll find after 20 or 30 seconds what you do is jump back over to your paddock and it doesn't seem so bad after all.”

Living out west, he's also having to contend with current drought conditions. But he employs the same "jumping the fence” mantra.

"I really do have this amazing life now. If there was an explosion in front of me and a genie popped out a bottle and said 'it's your lucky day Sam, I'll take you back and give you your legs'... the first thing I'd say is no thanks, hop back in your bottle and bugger off.”

Sam will speak at the Chaplaincy Dinner at Granite Belt Brewery on Wednesday, September 12. VIP tickets are $100pp or $50pp to attend with a three-course meal. Visit Pink Poppies or the host venue for tickets.

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