His career as a chef may have been cut short, but Rob Cridge wasn’t going to let multiple sclerosis weigh him down as he discovered a passion for sailing.
25 years since his life-changing diagnosis, Rob is still enjoying the open water, despite a decrease in mobility, thanks to support from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The 51-year-old Albany social worker was working as a chef when diagnosed with MS in 1995 after he developed blurred vision in his left eye.
He decided to change careers following his diagnosis to a vocation which would allow for him to continue working as his mobility deteriorated.
“I now work as a social worker at the Albany Health Campus with the rehabilitation team," Rob said.
The father of two started sailing in 2016 after he was approached by Paralympic sailing gold medallist Jamie Dunross who asked if he would like to have a crack at the Rio Paralympics.
He said, I know you’re a positive guy and can’t walk very well. Do you want to try and win gold with me at the Paralympics in Rio?”
“I had never sailed before, but I said ok and went on this journey. I never got there but I got to the world titles and sailed around the world, great stuff,” Rob said.
He now uses a wheelchair due to the progression of MS but this has not prevented him from sailing on a weekly basis. He owns a three-man Sonar boat which he still sails with some help and he also sails smaller, accessible 303 Hansas.
“I get out in the Sonar with other people who help me take the boat out and off I go or get in the Hansas by myself.”
APM has connected Rob to NDIS funding which assists him with his ocean-based hobby. This includes accessing, manning, and maintaining his boat. He has been supported with transport to regattas which have included weekends away.
“From a sailing point of view the NDIS is a match made in heaven,” he said.
NDIS funding also helps him maintain his home, is paying for his vehicle to be modified with hand controls and home modifications which will make his house more accessible.
A new funded wheelchair is also on its way to help with his mobility.
Rob volunteers at Princess Royal Club’s Sailability program which helps people of all abilities connect with sailing as an activity.
“I volunteer to take people with disabilities out and teach them how to sail,” He said.
As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.
For more information about accessing NDIS and other support for people with disability, contact APM Communities on 1800 276 522 or email email@example.com.