Happy return for Richard
RICHARD Allen was just another bloke enjoying a beer with some mates at the Bangalow Hotel yesterday. Four months ago that would have been unthinkable. On April 14, Allen broke his neck playing rugby union for Bangalow. He is now a quadraplegic. Yesterday's journey to Bangalow with his wife Kylie and daughter Clover to attend the Far North Coast Rugby Union Player of the Year awards is the first time he's returned to his home town since the accident. "I was a bit nervous (to come home)," Allen told The Northern Star. "It was a long trip and I've only been outside the hospital (in Brisbane) in hired vans. "It's exciting and I've had a couple of light beers." The Player of the Year awards was a fundraiser for the Richard Allen 14 Fund, which is helping with the costs associated with Allen's medical and living expenses. In exciting news for the family, the Fund is about to exchange contracts for a parcel of land in Bangalow on which they will build Allen a wheelchair-friendly premises. Local builders will donate labour and provide materials at cost price. All the goodwill and fundraising has overwhelmed Allen. "It's been a little bit embarrassing at times," he said. "But I guess it shows the difference between a society and a community." Allen's mobility has improved considerably in the past weeks. "I guess the big thing is that Richard has got heaps of movement in his arms," Kylie told the audience. "He's been able to feed himself, which has made a big difference. "He's doing really well and is in good spirits. The support from the community has been pretty incredible." Former Olympic 1500m champion Herb Elliott was a guest speaker at the award ceremony. He met Allen when the New Zealander did some landscaping on his Bangalow property. Allen hopes to leave his Brisbane hospital for good in November. "They said I could come home in November provided I don't have any setbacks in the meantime. If the rehab goes according to plan hopefully that's when I'll get back," he said. !n To help Richard and his family, donations can be made at any Summerland Credit Union to the Richard Allen 14 fund, or via www.richardallen.com.au.