160,000 reasons to get family in Clover

A YEAR after he injured his neck playing rugby union at Bangalow, Richie Allen has 160,000 reasons to be grateful.

For that is the amount his team-mates have raised since the accident to buy Richie and his family a house at Bangalow's Clover Hill.

On Saturday the first sod was turned on the Allens' new purpose-built house site at Paperbark Place.

The moment was marked with a barbecue, plenty of beer, and music pumping out of a yellow Kombi van.

The 60 friends who gathered on the empty block were Richard Allen's friends, family and members of a tight-knit rugby union community.

The Richard Allen Recovery Fund began just over a year ago when Richie's spine was injured in a tackle.

The injury left Richie without the use of his legs and very limited use of his arms.

According to Dan Hill, vice-president of the fundraising committee, the group won't stop until it reaches its target of $350,000, the amount needed to cover the cost of land and a house custom-built to cater for Richie's wheelchair and injuries.

Despite his injuries, Richie - a well-known and much loved larrikin in the town - had a beer in hand within minutes of arriving at his 'block' party.

He said moving back to Bangalow would give him even more excuses to 'go to the pub' and provide great support for his wife Kylie and their five-year-old daughter Clover.

Kylie said the family was overwhelmed by the unbelievable support given to them during the past 12 months.

"You have no idea how much Clover is looking forward to moving back to see her friends," Kylie said.

The Allen family has been living in Beenleigh to be close to the hospital where Richie is being treated by specialists.

The house plans were on display.

They were designed free by Malcolm Cummings whose son played rugby with Richie.

"The house has been designed to be as normal as possible but there are little things that are different, like all the corridors being really wide so that Richie can go into every room in the house," Mr Cummings said.

"It's a great site because it's so flat and it's five minutes from everything: Richie's daughter's school, the shops and it's just across the road from the club," he said.

Local builder Michael Hartigan has also offered to help build the house without charge.

He said that he didn't have to think too hard about donating his services.

"He needed a house and I thought 'well I can do that'.

"I played a lot of sport and my kids played a lot of sport, and we all got away with it without any injury, so when you hear about something like this happening, and you know you can provide something that will make his life better, then you just do it," he said.

For more information on how to donate go to www.richardallen.com.au.

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