Emotional reunion for one-armed woodchop champ
DEPENDING on your outlook, Nick Fredriksen is either the luckiest or unluckiest farmer in south-east Queensland.
Twice airlifted for lifesaving medical treatment - once as a child when he lost his arm in a hay baler and again just nine years later after he crashed though glass louvres - he says he has a lot to thank RACQ LifeFlight Rescue for.
Now a competitive woodchopper using the might of a single arm, the Kilcoy resident has gone on to compete nationally and internationally.
However it is this year's Ekka competition that would stand out most in his mind for a very special reason. Mr Fredriksen was given the chance to meet Dr Colin Myers, the man who saved his life during his first flight more than 20 years ago.
"I don't remember much of the flight, it is great to meet someone who was there when I almost lost my life and one of the people that helped me survive," he said on meeting Dr Myers.
"I was only eight years old at the time, dad had rushed me inside and wrapped his singlet around my shoulder, I didn't know what happened yet.
"The only thing I remember was on the flight they told me I could watch TV, I thought it would be cartoons or something but it ended up being the heart-rate monitor," he laughed.
To thank LifeFlight, Mr Fredriksen has pledged more than $24,000 for the charity, through fundraisers and competition winnings. With each airlift costing around $12,000 he figured he wanted to pay back the service and then some.
"It's so important to me to give back to services like LifeFlight because I've needed them myself twice and I know how much of a difference they make," he said.
He said it was the environment he was raised in that led him to success both on the land and in competitive woodchopping.
"My parents didn't let me sit around home and feel sorry for myself, they made me get back out there and get on with life," he said.
Dr Myers, who is executive director of emergency and children's services at Prince Charles Hospital, said meeting Nick was a unique experience.
"It is wonderful to see Nick doing so well and making such a success out of his life," Dr Myers said.
"It makes a huge difference for people like me looking after people we only see you for a short time, moving through the system."
The money Mr Fredriksen raises will go towards the LifeFlight Foundation, a community-based charity that supports the vital service.