DON’T take a single day of your life for granted, because it could be taken away from you in the blink of an eye. That’s the message Abbey-Louise Clarke wants to tell everyone.
Two years after a serious car accident nearly claimed her life, the 21-year-old Cobden woman is slowly, but surely, rebuilding. Miss Clarke told The Standard it had been a slow process but she was determined to return to her normal life.
“I’m getting there, I’ve come a long way already, and I am 100 per cent determined to get back to normal,” she said.
Miss Clarke suffered head and pelvic injuries in the accident on February 11, 2011, when her car left Cemetery Road and smashed into a culvert drain.
She was taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital before being transferred to the Epworth Rehabilitation hospital, where she spent seven months recovering. Her passenger received minor injuries.
“All I remember from the accident is from the night before the accident, because I was working at the pub,” she said.
“The next thing I remember is being in the Epworth hospital in Richmond, that was two to three months after the accident. I remember nothing from the Royal Melbourne and nothing from the accident.
“It’s pretty scary that I don’t have that memory from the accident but at the time, it was probably a good thing for me.”
Miss Clarke said that after a year of rehabilitation, physiotherapy and appointments with psychologists and speech therapists, she returned to work at Terang’s Wheatsheaf Hotel in March last year and resumed her role with the Cobden CFA. She also returned to TAFE one day a week, with the aim of completing her building apprenticeship.
“I have eight-block weeks of trade school left, but to finish that I need to have an employer,” she said.
“My main focus is getting back to trade school and finishing my apprenticeship, I have a year and six months to finish, I’m determined to finish it.
“Becoming a builder has been my goal since I did work experience in year 10. I decided I wanted to be different and try something the other girls weren’t doing.”
Miss Clarke put her recovery down to the support of those close to her and the Cobden community.
“There would be no way I could have come this far in such a short space of time without the support of my parents, family and close friends,”she said.
“They have been amazing, and there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not grateful for everything they have done for me. The support from everyone, my family, friends, co-workers, and the Cobden community is what got me through.
“It (the accident) changed my life, and my family’s life. I don’t take anything for granted, because I realise now how quickly everything can be taken away.”