Ben Clough was lucky to escape with his life many years ago. The Bachelor of Business student was driving to Perth from Muresk Institute of Agriculture when he was involved in a head-on collision just south of Sawyers Valley. Ben was travelling at 110kmh when the other car collided with his vehicle. The accident put Ben into a coma for 10 days and he lost his right arm. But he is not one to give in. Indeed, in a few days, the 27-year old Mt Lawley man would undertake a task few able-bodied people would bother to attempt.
Ben was a contestant in the 1995 Australian Abilympics and he would get just four hours to assemble an entire 18-speed mountain bike.
“I’ve always been good with mechanical things and though I’m a little slower since the accident I was confident I’d do okay,” Ben said. “I use my feet and legs to hold the parts but I was a bit worried about putting the tyres and the tubes together.” “I thought I might solve it by using my knees to grip them.” As well as losing his right arm in the accident, Ben now has only about 40-degree mobility in his left arm.
More than 1000 participants from many countries competed in the 1995 Abilympics at Burswood. The event featured 32 separate vocational workskill categories, including billboard advertising, studio photography, dressmaking and desktop publishing.
Before his accident Ben worked as a general hand in an engineering workshop in Melbourne and also spent two years as a shearer. His business degree carries a farming major and he is trained to use many computer packages. “My orthopaedic surgeon wrote me a reference, saying I can do anything I make up my mind to do,” Ben said. “And he’s right – I can do anything I make up my mind to do.”