Our Satisfied Guests.

Our Satisfied Guests.

Happy Highlights: Uncover stories of joy from our satisfied guests.

Sargood on Collaroy

Belle Camilleri.

Cathy Camilleri and her family have been to Sargood many times since it first opened in 2017; in fact, its become one of their favourite places.

Belle Camilleri was just three and a half when she was hit by a truck and suffered a spinal cord injury, leaving her paralysed below the waist.

“Before Sargood opened, we had only been on one holiday since the accident,” says Cathy, mother of Belle, now 11. “We stayed in a normal hotel and we realised just how hard it was. We had to take Belle’s air mattress and other equipment with us, there was no ramp to the pool so we had to carry her, and there was no way of getting her down to the beach. There were so many things she missed out on – we never did it again.”

Their first visit to Sargood was the start of a whole new way of holidaying. It has been a godsend, not just for Belle but also for Cathy, her husband Troy, Belle’s brother 9-year-old Nate and their extended family.

“Belle loves it and so does Nate,” says Cathy. “They love all the activities – cycling, swimming, snorkelling, tennis and going on the beach buggy. The rock pool down at the beach is probably Belle’s favourite. The wonderful thing is they get to do activities together. Belle knows that Sargood is designed for her and that it’s the one place where she isn’t going to miss out on anything due to her injury.”

The family no longer needs to take Belle’s mattress with them as Sargood provides everything. “There’s a celling hoist if we want that and there’s a special shower-bath that she uses too. There’s also plenty of space in the rooms and common areas for her wheelchair,” says Cathy. “There really aren’t any challenges in travelling when we go to Sargood. I also know, especially if I go by myself with the kids, that I can get the help of staff to lift her in and out of things – or to do anything really. You can’t assume you will have help elsewhere.”

Sargood has given Belle the confidence to see what she is able to achieve. “She can try the bikes and see if that’s something she wants to get into. She can test out the various technologies and equipment and see what’s out there that she may be able to use in the future.”

The Camilleri’s also enjoy meeting other families who have a child with an SCI. During their visit in October, they met another family who had an 11 year old with an SCI, and he also had siblings around the same age. “All the kids did a lot of stuff together so that was really lovely,” says Cathy.

“Troy and I also learn a lot from speaking to other parents. For example, this family told us about the wheelchair sports their boy was into, and we thought that could be something Belle might like too. We will most likely meet up with them again through those kinds of activities.

“It’s also really nice to chat about some of the issues that crop up when you have a child with an SCI, and hear about other people’s experiences. We have met a number of other families through Sargood over the years that we keep in touch with.”

“It really is a wonderful place. We can take the extended family and enjoy time all together. My eldest son is married with a baby, so they sometimes join us, as do my parents. Our whole family loves Sargood and I don’t think we would holiday anywhere else.”

Sargood on Collaroy

Margaret Freemantle.

If you have a spinal injury, you’re in a world where no one completely understands you…then you go to Sargood.

Canberra resident, Margaret Freemantle, has lived with an incomplete spinal cord injury for 19 years.

Her injury occurred when she fainted in her home and the fall injured her neck causing damage to her spinal cord at the C5 and C6 level.

Margaret is able to walk but experiences significant weakness in her right side; this includes a spastic right hand and a dropped foot on the right side, significantly impacting her balance. This has kept her from engaging in some of her favourite hobbies like swimming in the surf.

Margaret’s first visit to the resort in January 2020 transformed her outlook on her abilities.

“Sargood gave me a good motivational boost and got me moving again. What really helped me was the dedication and focus I saw in the staff. The whole experience made me reset my goals and realise that I was able to do more than I thought. I left with a much more positive mindset,” she said.

During her first stay, she undertook an intensive therapy program for 10 days, conducted by Gold Coast-based Centre of Recovery, Making Strides. The program, comprised of daily two-hour sessions, really helped her to push herself. The exercise physiologists gave her a range of exercises and stretches aimed at improving her walking and movement.

Margaret’s entire stay was funded by the NDIS. “I am honestly so grateful for that scheme. It is amazing that an experience as incredible as the one I had at Sargood on Collaroy is completely funded by NDIS,” she said.

Due to the nature of her injury, the biggest factor Margaret takes into account when planning a holiday is pain.

“It’s almost like an invisible illness in some ways because people just don’t know how much pain I am in all the time. The beds at Sargood were amazing. Their mattresses are designed for people with spinal cord injuries and I had the best sleeps there. That was a huge thing for me.”

Margaret plans to return to Sargood on Collaroy next summer. She wants to try a range of activities like kayaking, fishing and social activities with other guests. She also dreams of getting back into the ocean, as she relaxed in a salt-water sea pool every morning during her last stay.

“Living in Canberra, you really miss the feel of the ocean. Sargood is in such a beautiful location. When I had the opportunity to enjoy the salt water again (even in a more limited way) and to feel it on my skin I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!”

Sargood on Collaroy

Ben Harper.

Having the chance to do the things that my kids love such as fishing and snorkelling was a really amazing experience for us to share together.

Ben Harper’s life changed forever 14 years ago. At 25 years old, Ben took a dive off a jetty into shallow water.

When his head hit the sand, he broke his neck and C5 vertebrae with the accident resulting in his quadriplegia.

Ben lives in Wagga Wagga with his wife and five children ranging from ages 2-11 years old. The difficulty finding accessible accommodation and an available carer always made holidaying together as a family feel daunting. It wasn’t until he heard about Sargood on Collaroy through his NDIS coordinator, that he realised the family could holiday together with ease.

When Ben first visited Sargood in January 2017 his whole family came with him. With the support of Sargood’s trained staff, they enjoyed fishing, snorkelling, playing virtual reality games and visiting local markets together.

Ben was thankful for the opportunity to do these activities with his kids. They had such a great visit that returning to Sargood on Collaroy is now an annual tradition. The family aims to holiday there every January.

“I love being able to do activities with my kids at Sargood that I am not able to do on my own. The staff provided complete support by setting everything up for us. They are so motivated that it gives guests an amazing feeling knowing they can relax,” he said.

Ben has also gone to Sargood for driving assessment courses, which will allow him to return to driving for the first time since his accident. “I’m most excited about being able to pick my kids up from school; I’m really looking forward to it!”

He considers Sargood on Collaroy to be a second home and looks forward to each visit.

Sargood on Collaroy

Matt Allen.

We all came away with something useful and tangible and it was very satisfying seeing my own designs come to life!

With a background in science and a love of all things technical, it’s no surprise Matthew Allen found Sargood’s newest course – 3D printing – to be his favourite to date.

3D printing allows you to design and make just about anything, and this relatively new technology presents an exciting opportunity for people with a Spinal Cord Injury. The complex and variable nature of SCIs means that sometimes the exact adaptive aid that would help you doesn’t actually exist! With 3D printing, you can design your own adaptive product to solve a problem that is specific to you.

“It was extremely practical,” says Matthew. “We all came away with something useful and tangible and it was very satisfying seeing my designs come to life. We brainstormed ideas with the group, and I decided to make a dice container and roll cup. I plan to use these skills we developed to design more things at home. The course pushed me to think creatively and how to approach problems in different ways. The trainer was full of energy and helpful with showing us how to use the software despite our disabilities. He was hands-off in his tutorials in a good way, as the course was aimed at teaching us how to do it ourselves.”

Matthew was hit by a car in 2016 and suffered an SCI that left him a quadriplegic. Prior to his accident, he had been studying physics and mathematics and had begun working as a radiochemist. While he hasn’t been able to use his science background vocationally since his injury, the course has opened up some doors for his future.

“The best part about 3D printing is learning how to approach a problem with critical thinking and creativity. It’s not exactly art and it’s not exactly science – it’s somewhere between the two,” says Matthew. “It’s also a lot of fun and a great skill set to have. My partner Allison, who works in an engineering consultancy, realised that the CAD software in the course is like what they use at her company, and it has gotten me thinking about a potential career in drafting. It’s been a hugely positive experience for me and realising that there is a lot more vocationally and recreationally that I can do regardless of my injury.”

Matthew has been back to Sargood many times over the past few years. “The activities here offer opportunities we don’t normally have. For example, Allison and I have been in the ocean pool a couple of times and it is nice to be in the water together. Last time we were even able to go for a bike ride up on the headland and around the Narrabeen Lakes. It is just a lovely, normal experience and something we would otherwise struggle to do together following my injury.”

While Matthew also enjoys the occupational therapy activities and the virtual reality games at Sargood, he says it is the courses and the people that keep him coming back. He has attended Making Strides and the Return to Work courses, and he brought his extended family to Sargood to celebrate his mums 50th birthday. He has also had several weekends together with Allison.

“I love the location by the beach, but I would stay at Sargood wherever it was. The guest attendants are amazing and friendly, they also understand the help I need physically and are well trained. They have a lot of experience so I don’t have to explain everything to them.

“It’s also just a wonderful community. You can do whatever you want; you can just relax or book in for one of the activities. If it rains, the staff adapt – a few of us might grab a coffee in the surrounding area for example. The communal cooking area is always social and good fun with lots of chatting and laughter. I have also come to know some other guests who have stayed at the same time, and it’s a great place to catch up with my friends and family when I stay. It’s a great home away from home.”

Sargood on Collaroy

Teresa Lee-Winser.

Teresa Lee-Winser had not experienced a proper holiday in over a decade after sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI).

“After seeing the ad for Sargood on Collaroy, I organised a three day stay with my daughter and carer to see what the resort was all about. I was able to stay at the resort thanks to my NDIS package. I was very pleasantly surprised and can say with confidence that Sargood on Collaroy exceeded my highest expectations. My very short time at the resort allowed me to share positive experiences with my daughter, Jazmin.”

While Sargood on Collaroy’s trained staff can assist guests with a range of recreational activities, such as archery, surfing, fishing, sailing, kayaking, cycling, golfing and snorkelling, simply swimming in the ocean was a moment Teresa won’t forget.

“Going swimming in the ocean was indescribable. The Sargood on Collaroy staff let me enjoy the water for as long as I wanted. They cared that I took my time and that I was enjoying myself.”

Following her trip with Jazmin, Teresa returned to Sargood on Collaroy for a 10 day stay with her husband.

“For the first time in 10 years, my husband and I were able to take a proper break, utilising an accommodation package at Sargood on Collaroy. Not only did I have the freedom to move around and take advantage of an endless list of activities, but it was a chance for us to spend time as a couple without worry or stress.

“My son lives in Sydney so staying at the resort also provides me with the perfect opportunity to catch up with him and his family. When I first visited Sargood on Collaroy, we were able to enjoy time together at the resort’s sunset drinks on the terrace.”

While Sargood on Collaroy goes above and beyond to offer every possible outdoor activity, it caters for all guests and their interests.

“While my husband and I do enjoy kayaking and outdoor activities, I really enjoyed their art program. Being able to do quilting and spend time with other likeminded people means I can enhance my skills that I already have.”

Teresa is passionate about raising awareness of Sargood on Collaroy and educating other Australians with SCI that they can also visit this world class resort via their NDIS packages.

“I would not have been able to book a respite accommodation holiday package without the NDIS.

“For me, this is the place I want to be and where I want to use my respite accommodation NDIS package. It is an opportunity to use this support so I can spend quality time with my family without having to worry about any access issues.”

Sargood on Collaroy

Sarah O’Meara.

Travelling with four young children might sound hectic enough for some, but for Sarah O’Meara and her family, the challenges are brought to a whole new level ...

Usually, when we have travelled as a family, there is a huge amount of equipment we need to bring for Jake – commodes, mattresses, chairs … you name it. Often, we have to actually bring a trailer so he has everything he needs while we’re away.

But even more confronting is the lack of access we find in most places we go, such as parks, beaches, pools and restaurants. It can make fun trips really tiring and mentally draining. We usually have to carry him into pools, up and down stairs or onto beaches because there aren’t accessible facilities. This is no mean feat as, even though he is still young, he is not little! As a mum, it is also heartbreaking because it is upsetting for Jake not to be able to participate in activities with everyone else.

Sargood on Collaroy, on the other hand, is an absolute godsend. We have stayed so many times now as it is so much fun, and it’s 100% accessible so we can do things as a family and no one has to be left out. The first time we came to Sargood on Collaroy we were literally blown away with how amazing it was in terms of its design and comfort – not to mention the staff, who are exceptional.

Even with two adults and four children ranging from three up to 11 years old, Sargood on Collaroy has something for all of us. The kids love the beach, the beautiful walks and the rock pools which are all close by, and there are so many different activities to try. Jake had a go snorkelling the last time we visited, which he absolutely loved. There is also a great technology room, with modified controllers so everyone can play. It has virtual reality headsets which allow us to play games together and escape to another world.

What is truly lovely is that the broader community of Collaroy is committed to accessibility and inclusion as well, which means that most places you go nearby – including cafes and restaurants – are easy to access and the people are very accommodating.

Sargood on Collaroy’s vision to set a new standard in accessible travel really means the world to our family. They are leading the way with inclusiveness and are changing people’s lives for the better. For someone like Jake to be able to join in activities with his family and feel included in the community is wonderful.

Most other places we visit just do the bare minimum in being ‘accessible’, and aren’t particularly accessible in reality. I find this incredibly frustrating. I would love to see councils and businesses follow Sargood on Collaroy’s lead and actually do so much more to accommodate people with disabilities, so that they can properly participate in life and be part of the community.

Sargood on Collaroy


“Sargood is truly inclusive – you don’t have to feel different because you have a disability”.

I was extremely impressed by my recent first visit to Sargood on Collaroy. The thought put into the design and facilities is just amazing; it is unlike anywhere else I have visited. It is so spacious and very easy to get around in a wheelchair – it certainly exceeded my expectations. When I arrived, I just parked in the underground carpark, came up the lift and was invited in for happy hour drinks and nibbles!

Sargood is truly inclusive – you don’t have to feel different because you have a disability. Not only that, but the local area was extremely accommodating, welcoming and accessible too. We went to eat out in Collaroy several times; all the cafes and restaurants were within pushing distance from Sargood, and it was just a pleasure to be there, without all the stress and hassle that wheelchair access sometimes creates.

I travel a lot for work and I find accessible accommodation is typically very inconsistent from one place to the next. This makes it extremely difficult and stressful to organise a trip with any certainty. It requires extensive planning and research, and many phone calls as there often isn’t enough information on the website. Some hotels will advertise that they are accessible but then they won’t even have the basics. For example, there may not be a shower chair, spaces will be too narrow for a wheelchair or essential items will be placed up high. I think hotels assume you will be travelling with an able-bodied person, or perhaps they just don’t know what is needed.

This is why Sargood is such a breath of fresh air. When you book, you just know your needs are going to be catered for. The website is extensive and clear, with loads of pictures, so it’s easy to access all the information you need to know and plan appropriately. This takes so much of the stress out of travelling – not having to do all that research and think of everything. And of course, everything is provided so you don’t have to bring so much stuff!

The best part of my stay at Sargood was catching up with friends as well as trying something new – surfing! This definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I was very anxious, partly because I have bad shoulders and didn’t want to injure myself. But I had faith in the staff – they know what they are doing so I didn’t back out! We caught two waves and it was just awesome to feel that rush and know I was out there surfing.

I spent a lot of time with my friend Nick and his family; we all had a wonderful time, including their children who loved being by the beach and playing the virtual reality games.

The most important thing for me is my independence which I treasure just so much, as do most people with a spinal cord injury or other disability. That’s why Sargood is such a great place, because it encourages as much independence as possible – through its activities, its facilities, talks and therapy – while supporting guests wherever they need it.

Sargood on Collaroy

Sam Bailey.

Hilton eat your heart out! This place is brilliant. My wife and I travel quite a bit and there is nothing like Sargood on Collaroy.

At just 19 years of age, Sam Bailey suffered a spinal cord injury (SCI) in a car accident while jackerooing in the Northern Territory. He became paralysed from the chest down with only limited use of his arms and hands and unable to regulate his body temperature. He lost bowel and bladder control and part of his lung capacity.

Through hard work and determination in the decades that followed, Sam has managed to build a “ripper of a life” for himself. Today he and wife Jenny, run a 1,250-hectare beef cattle property. Sam has learnt to fly an ultralight aircraft and his next goal is to become the first quadriplegic in the world to fly a helicopter.

Relaxing on holiday at Sargood on Collaroy, Sam reflected on his journey and the impact he foresees Sargood having on people with SCI.

“Sargood is ground breaking, a total game changer and a role model for what is possible. We were on cloud nine throughout our stay!”

Sam vividly recalls being “absolutely terrified” when he returned home from hospital following his accident and the hard times that followed.

“It’s the mental anguish that you are not prepared for. I was no longer ‘Sam the Gladiator’. I found myself in some dark places at times. It’s a massive readjustment not only for the individual but for the whole family.

“I wonder how things would have been different for myself and my parents if Sargood was around back then… a place that breaks the ice where everyone can relax and reconnect. Thank goodness it is here now,” said Sam. “I take my hat off to the people who are making Sargood happen.”

Sargood on Collaroy

Cassy Campbell.

From Canada to Sargood on Collaroy -
A family story from a partner’s perspective.

One of my selfish and internal fears I had as a wife of a new quadriplegic was the idea of never seeing my Australian family again. Travelling to and from Australia with kids had always presented its challenges, but adding a quadriplegic to the mix was more than I thought I could handle…

“Arriving at Sargood after 18 hours of flying and 24 hours of travelling was surreal –– calm, peaceful and bright with energy. We were greeted with warm hearts and open hands to help…” Cassy Campbell.

The experience that each and every family endures after a spinal cord injury is unique in every way. One of the first things you start to learn while in ICU, the trauma ward and then finally rehab, is that no two injuries are the same. When you look around you, nothing makes sense. The guy next door breaks his C3 and walks out. The lady through the curtain breaks her lumbar and is complete and unable to move from the injury down. Before it happens to your family, you have no idea what injury level is, the incomplete or complete status, and what ASEA scores mean. You look for hope in every twitch of muscle and nerve, hoping it’s the start of something returning, only to find out it’s a spasm. But as time goes on we all face the stark reality of the injuries and what it will mean for the life our family will live from now on. Everything you did as a family changes drastically including travel and time away from home.

One of my selfish and internal fears I had as a wife of a new quadriplegic was the idea of never seeing my Australian family again. Travelling to and from Australia with kids had always presented its challenges, but adding a quadriplegic to the mix was more than I thought I could handle. We can’t afford full time caregiving for me to leave for the two weeks I would need to see my family. Booking accommodation and travelling locally had taught me a few things already about the challenges of travelling with a spinal cord injury. The questions raced through my mind… how can we fly that far without risking a pressure sore? What if the accommodation wasn’t suitable? How can I enjoy the holiday if I’m on deck caregiving for the entire trip while we leave behind our caregivers who give me breaks at home? As a homesick Australian who needed my family more than ever after this accident, I was feeling depressed and without options.

In July of 2017, I was beginning to break under the financial and emotional stress of two and a half years’ of caregiving, damage control for my family and learning to be there for my best friend in a totally different way. I needed to go home to my family, one way or another. I needed to be surrounded by the love only my own family and my mum could provide. I found some cheap flights and decided the rest would have to fall into place as we booked and planned in the coming months. I hadn’t done the math about how much it would cost to stay in various accommodation styles. Air BnB, hotels, borrowed friends places… but none of it was affordable or suitable for our needs for a month. What had I done!? Booked tickets and not able to afford to actually pay for the extensive accommodation requirements we needed to be safe and comfortable with Forrest’s injury. One of the decisions that every family makes in our home province is holidays or wheelchairs and adaptive devices? Our province in Canada gives no aid for equipment, therapy or wheelchairs so it’s often our financial priority to keep Forrest in good equipment so he can be comfortable and increasingly independent.

When talking to my mum about my options she mentioned a new place opening in Collaroy for spinal cord injury folk to stay and play. I had never heard of place a like this before. The idea of a purpose designed complex with surfing or snorkelling was intriguing to me. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure whether we could afford Sargood either but I enquired anyway. Through the enormously generous funding program offered at Sargood, things came together for us on this trip.

As we left Canada and boarded the plane, I felt for the first time that I didn’t have to worry about the place were sleeping next. It was made just for us and we were confident for the first time ever about leaving the security of our comfortable and adapted home. It’s a fear that I believe most people with spinal cord injury feel when they leave home — an undeniable anxiety of giving up all of their hard work and independence when they travel.

Arriving at Sargood after 18 hours of flying and 24 hours of travelling was surreal –– calm, peaceful and bright with energy. We were greeted with warm hearts and open hands to help. To be honest, it was difficult for me as a mum, wife, caregiver and stubbornly independent woman to accept the wonderful help that was being offered. Forrest was exhausted and I was just happy to be home on Collaroy Beach; a very special place to me already. Collaroy was a second home to me as a child – where my grandmother taught me to swim in the kids’ pool and loved to take us when she lived at Collaroy Plateau. We were home and we could finally relax after two and a half years of adjusting to our new world.

The building and location was breathtaking with gorgeous views in every direction. The community kitchen was ideal in its design and community feel. The rooms were modern, comfortable and spacious with automation of all of the essential amenities. From adjustable height kitchen tops, adjustable beds for easy transfer and care, automated windows and blinds, and doors with easy opening features. All of the things we lose when we travel were here, allowing us to live as if we were in our adapted home but it was way nicer!

What an amazing concept!

We took a day to adjust and they had us signed up for a swimming session in the pool. Swimming had not been an option for us in the preceding 12 months as our local and only pool had no wheelchair access after the parking lot to entrance ramp was condemned as unsafe. This was really exciting for us and nerve wracking at the same time. So the time came and we met Seb and Sally. Seb was a bright, young guy with a gentle energy that immediately instilled a sense of confidence that everything was going to be great. It’s hard to describe how good it is to not have to constantly explain, educate and direct people on how best to handle Forrest and his injury. Everything we usually have to go over, Seb went over with us. Wow. That meant the world to us. He got it — all of it without us having to explain anything.

Seb, Anthony and Sally became our crew for the coming weeks. Swimming went well so surfing was next. Forrest was pumped to give it a try and it was all he had been thinking about for months since we booked. We arrived at the beach and nerves were palpable on our end but we knew it was all going to be fine.

Forrest went out with Seb on the jet-propelled board and caught his first wave. The look on his face was magical and it was all too much for me. I broke down in tears of happiness and I couldn’t stop crying. These were my first tears of joy since this crazy part of our life started.

We have invested every emotional penny we had to recovery and to get to this point in the game. We were finally living again not just recovering. We could just be…. relaxed, free, us again as a family without the stresses of the unpredictability that comes with disabled travel.

Over the next 10 days, we and our children met other courageous and brave families who were experiencing their own realities and life with a spinal cord injury. We felt normal for once and part of a new family. I’m not going to call it a new normal, because life with a SCI is far from normal, but we felt understood and didn’t need to explain things to those around us.

To all of the tireless work that goes into creating this space and for the efforts that went into saving the land, fund-raising, designing and building this heavenly place, we are forever grateful. Sargood is filled with caring and loving professionals who genuinely care about the guests and their lives.

Knowing we can come to this special place means that coming home for me is a reality and not just a fear. Home is not place but a feeling you have when you’ve arrived at a place of peace.

Thank you Sargood… your impact on our life will last eternally.

Sargood on Collaroy

Belle Camilleri.

School holidays – a welcome break for most, but equally a scramble in the search for a destination with activities for the whole family.

“Discovering Sargood on Collaroy with its custom-built comfort and accessibility was a refreshing change!” said Cathy, carer and mother to eight-year old Belle who has a spinal cord injury.

“Our three-week stay in the summer of 2018 was the first real holiday we have had following Belle’s accident almost five years ago. We’ve been on previous holidays where we’ve had to take air mattresses and all that kind of equipment, but here I don’t need to because I know she’s got what she needs.”

Sargood on Collaroy provides people like Cathy and her family with the opportunity to enjoy a holiday with ease and peace of mind knowing the resort can deliver on accessibility. From its purpose-built features and design, to choice of support and care, and the range of specialised equipment and daily living aids available at Sargood on Collaroy, guests can look forward to a truly worry-free resort experience.

“Being able to go somewhere as a family knowing that it can fully accommodate Belle and her needs has made a huge difference,” says Cathy.

In addition to a welcome respite for Cathy and the family, a holiday at Sargood on Collaroy opens up a world of possibilities for Belle who made the most of her time trying the host of activities offered through Sargood’s group-based Weekly Activity Program. From snorkelling, sailing and kayaking to dancing, enjoying the ocean pool swim or accessible local community facilities with her family and trialling the X8 4×4 wheelchair on the sand, not a moment of their stay was wasted.

“There’s a lot of skills that Belle has gained that she most likely would have never had a chance to if she had been able to walk. She would never have probably gone sailing, never tried kayaking…and I think that freedom is what a lot of people find at Sargood on Collaroy,” says Cathy who found there was even more to be gained from the people and families she met at Sargood.

“I think the biggest thing has been being able to talk to other people and families that are in similar situations. When you’re at home you’re kind of isolated so it’s nice to be able to talk to the other guests and learn little things to get you through the rest of your days when you’re not here at Sargood,” says Cathy.

The Sargood experience has provided the Camilleri family with the added bonus of an eight-year old who has grown a confidence and vivaciousness throughout their stay, developing a renewed understanding and acceptance of herself and her place in the world.

“She has really opened up here. She is not afraid to chat, it’s not taking a long time for her to talk to people when it would normally take her a few days or times talking to a person for her to come out of her shell,” says Cathy.

“I think it’s just the fact that she realises that everyone here is either in a wheelchair or has some kind of spinal cord injury and so they’ve all got stories. Sargood on Collaroy is going to be a big part of her life. A very big part.”

Sargood on Collaroy

Ivan Safranek.

“As soon as I entered Sargood, one reality ended and another began. I had an amazing time. I’ve dreamt about places like this but I’d never seen anything like it"

It’s not every day you can lay claim to changing someone’s life but that’s what happened the weekend Ivan Safranek stayed at Sargood on Collaroy.

Ivan was a guest at Sargood at the same time as Nathan. Both sustained similar spinal cord injuries (SCI) when they were teenagers in the early ‘90s. The two connected over a swim and a few chats and by the end of his stay, Ivan’s positive attitude had made such an impression that Nathan said he would be forever glad they had met.

According to Ivan, “Sargood breaks down barriers and lets people open up. It makes guests feel calm and relaxed in a world that is sometimes hard. It’s part of the magic of Sargood”.

Ivan Safranek, who lives in Perth Western Australia, has reached the top in his chosen water sport and is the current national champion in V8 Jetsprint boat racing. Ivan is a seasoned traveller and can confidently say he has never experienced anything like Sargood.

“There’s a lot in society that is not accessible but that’s not the case at Sargood.

“The architectural and open plan design, the specialist support staff, and the thoughtful little touches are some of the things that help build a sense of community and connection there,” he said.

The Manager of Sargood, James Dakin, shares his passion and experience of living and working in the Collaroy area with Sargood guests who come to not only refresh but to connect with the community, learn and participate in courses and a range of recreation and leisure activities.

“Life for people with spinal cord injury is not without its stresses but here at Sargood our aim is for guests to have stress-free stays where they can book a beautiful hotel room that they know is truly accessible. There is no need for our guests to bring bulky equipment — it is all provided. Guests can choose to bring their own carer or not as amazing care staff are available at Sargood. These three aspects make a stay with us stress-free and ensure that guests and their families can refresh and reconnect with one another. Our guests leave more confident and independent,” he said.

The entire Sargood resort was designed to put the fun and ease back into travel for people with an SCI. The fully accessible resort includes 17 self-contained apartments and offers the latest in home automation, daily living aids and adaptive facilities plus a gymnasium.

“The shared kitchen, the varied height tables, the easy-to-use kettles and the slide-out tray in front of the microwave to take your meal to the table without burning yourself… you don’t get in today’s houses,” mused Ivan.

“My room was amazing – purpose-built and not retrofitted, spacious and accessible with integrated home automation. The closet where the shirt rack is at my shoulder height shows the cleverly thought-out design.”

The ensuite bathroom was another standout for Ivan, “it was sensational, I could do a complete u-turn!”

New experiences

Ivan describes Sargood as a place where people with an SCI have the ability to experience things they wouldn’t necessarily anywhere else.

“People sometimes put restrictions on themselves. As a society, we put restrictions on ourselves. We do what we are comfortable doing. But to see three other people who are wheelchair users and you’re the fourth and they ask you, ‘do you want to go for a swim?’… it makes you think, ‘if you guys can do it, maybe I can do it too’. Sargood gives you the opportunity and confidence to do it.”

Whilst the accessible facilities impressed Ivan, so did the staff who he describes as loving their jobs.

“Nothing is too difficult, they were so helpful. You could ask something and they would come back in two minutes. One staff member travelled an hour and a quarter a day to get there. That says a lot. A person can have empathy and understanding, they understand what is going on for people with a spinal cord injury. That doesn’t come naturally to everyone.”

Creating family memories

The first time Ivan stayed at Sargood he sent photos of the resort to his eight-year-old daughter and within six weeks, Ivan had returned with Ivanka, who thought it was ‘really cool’.

“She was so excited when we got there. She noticed the size of the rooms and the automatic doors and said ‘that’s so awesome for people in wheelchairs!’

“Ivanka asked ‘what’s the track in the ceiling, Dad?’ I said it’s for wheelchair users who need a hoist. But it’s discreetly hidden in the cupboard.”

During this second stay, Ivan met up with other parents and children who were Sargood guests. And Ivan did something he had never had the opportunity to do before.

“We’ve never been on the beach for a walk. Where I live, not one council has a ramp from the carpark to the water. But at Sargood we took the Extreme X8 to the beach and went for a walk. My daughter loved it and so did I!”

The Extreme X8 is a power wheelchair that allows users to access rugged terrain. Designed by Magic Mobility, Extreme X8 is an off-road 4×4 electric wheelchair with a durable construction, perfect for beach use.

Ivan describes people with SCI as being in the minority. But he didn’t get that feeling at Sargood, and said the staff were so helpful.

“Some people with SCI can lose a bit of sight and direction in themselves, so sometimes it’s good to say ‘hey, you can do a lot of things”.

Ivan was mesmerised by the location, the facilities, and most of all the people at Sargood. As a resort built specifically for people with SCI, Sargood is where Nathan and Ivan plan to book another stay to meet up again and take advantage of all that the resort has to offer.

We are Accessibility Reimagined.

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