Hamish’s story

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My name is Hamish Cook. I am 20 years old, and I live on the east coast of New South Wales, in the beautiful town of Crescent Head with my partner and family. Growing up, I was always an outdoors kid. I loved playing rugby league and union, fishing, swimming and camping, you would always find me outside with my mates. I had hopes of moving to Townsville to pursue a career in fishing.

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School was never my strong suit, so I thrived during the holidays after getting my P’s and having the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted to. On the 13th of January 2021 it was school holidays, and I was 17 and down at the local beach with my mates. On this day, the life that I was living came crashing down. We were down at the headland and I dived into the water first, not knowing what was beneath the surface. I hit my head on a submerged rock, dislocating my c5/6 vertebrae. My mates dragged me onto the rocks and it didn’t take long to be surrounded by paramedics. My parents were quickly by my side, and they stayed here for the next 8 months. I was airlifted to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, unconscious and completely unaware of what I was going to wake up to.

After an extensive emergency surgery and 7 days in ICU, I awoke from a coma. I don’t remember much from this time, but I do remember feeling distraught and frightened for what the future held. During my time in ICU I couldn’t move, speak or eat. My mum and dad spent their days by my side, trying to entertain me with TV shows and movies, constantly talking to me. After 18 days in ICU, I was moved to the Spinal Unit where I would spend the next 4 months. During my time in the Spinal Unit, I learnt about my injury and everything that would come with it. I spent my days with physio therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers. It was always a pleasure when my mates and family came to visit. My younger brother and sister would come down whenever they could between school and other commitments at home.

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I was then moved to Royal Rehab in Ryde, where I spent the following 4 months. My time in rehab consisted of intense physio and allowed me to regain muscle and movement. It was here that returning home became a not so distant reality. Whilst I was busy completing exercises daily, the community back home rallied together to ensure my transition home was one that could occur with ease. Local businesses came together to modify our family home into one that would be accessible for me.

The journey home meant a new challenge for me to face and adjust to. A life without being surrounded by nurses and doctors who were constantly monitoring me was both nerve wracking and exciting. A few days after returning home, an old friend from high school, Ella, came and visited. Three years later, I am proud to call her my partner. She has supported me and allowed me to be truly vulnerable with her, helping me to overcome many hardships and insecurities.

I am glad to say since returning home, I have built up a strong support system. As always, my parents are the foundation of my support system followed by family, my mates and physicians who encourage me daily. I attend the gym and physio multiple times a week and have started wheelchair rugby training. A shift in mentality allowed me to become the best person I can be, however as with everyone, some days are harder than others.


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I have plans to move to the Gold Coast with my partner and our dog Bonnie to gain further independence and eventually start a family of our own. I aspire to play wheelchair rugby at a professional level and will continue to train hard until I get there.

In 2023, I had the opportunity to attend Making Strides and it truly was a life changing experience. The environment within Making Strides was extremely uplifting and I gained so much knowledge which allowed me to expand and improve the training I complete at home. I look forward to moving to the Gold Coast and being able to call Making Strides my new home.


The quadriplegic life has been a difficult road with many adjustments and unexpected twists and turns along the way. I hope to be able to walk again, walk down the aisle at my wedding, be able to run on the beach with my kids, get in and out of bed alone and everything in between. I know there has to be a cure for Spinal Cord injury.

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