It’s about the journey

FROM TILPA TO DUBBO: Starting next week Karen and Jamie Manning, as well as their three children, will ride for 22 days to raise awareness and funds for Limbs4 Life. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
FROM TILPA TO DUBBO: Starting next week Karen and Jamie Manning, as well as their three children, will ride for 22 days to raise awareness and funds for Limbs4 Life. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Two years ago, Jamie Manning’s life was dramatically altered when he was involved in an accident that very nearly killed him.

“People say he’s unlucky,” wife Karen Manning said. “But it was the luckiest day of his life. He was lucky to get out of the car, he was lucky to get to Dubbo, he was lucky to get to Sydney. He wasn’t supposed to make it.”

Jamie was driving home to his farm outside Dubbo when he came off the road and ran into a tree. He lost an arm and a leg in the accident and suffered burns to 40 per cent of his body.

Now Jamie and Karen, along with their three kids, are hoping to give back to the organisation that helped them, while raising awareness for Limbs 4 Life.

“When these things happen to you, you realise there’s more to life than working. I was working seven days a week but there’s people out there that need help,” Jamie said.

After becoming a double amputee himself, Jamie turned to helping others through Life 4 Limbs.

“The money we’re raising goes to Life 4 Limbs. They’re a non-profit organisation providing information to amputees, like treatments and care and what products are available. But they also might send me out to say Lightning Ridge or Louth or things like that. I’ll help somebody out that’s been made an amputee for a few days, help get their spirit up,” he said. 

“For me to go out and do it I’ve got to pay for my own accommodation, my own travel, so the money I raise will help maybe a 100 people, 200 people.”

Jamie and his family will start in Tilpa and spend 22 days riding to Dubbo.

“We’d like to raise $20,000.  The more the merrier, but I wanted to set a goal where it was possible for me to reach and when I reach that we’ll go over it and it’ll be even better,” he said.

“We’ve done a few fundraisers over in Scone on the weekend but the money is great but it’s raising awareness. There’s people out there helping amputees and there are so many amputees that do need help.

“This leg I’ve got cost $100,000 and it only lasts five years. People that used to work can’t work now and now they’ve got to pay for a new leg every five years. It’s a big ask.”

Jamie spent five months in hospital and it was 12 months before he was able to get back on the horse.

“I rode horses for my work, I broke them in and educated them but obviously it took a lot to get back to them,” he said.

“You learn patience no doubt, but it’s not too bad, there’s still ways to do things.”

To date, Jamie has had more than 50 operations. His last was six weeks ago, and his next will be in Sydney after he finishes the ride, Karen said.

However, despite that, he set himself the goal of finishing the ride.

“I think it’s important for Jamie to give something back and maybe lead by example. Just show people that  no matter what happens in life you just don’t lay down and sulk. Give yourself something to look forward to and something to work towards,” Karen said.

“I think it’s important for us to show our kids too.”

Jamie said he couldn’t imagine what it would be like for his kids to grow up without a father.

“I don’t have any drama. I’ve always been pretty positive with life. Just take life as it comes, it’s too short to worry, And I’ve had good support from my wife and family which helps you get through,” he said.

At the moment, Limbs 4 Life is in Victoria, but this year they’re moving into NSW and Queensland.

There was a big demand for it here, Jamie said.

“There’s a lot of support when you’re in hospital, but when you leave hospital you’ve got to find support on your own. That’s why there’s a need for it here,” he said.

“There are quite a few people around here who are amputees. A lot of farming accidents happen and they lose legs.”

Charles Allan Mitchell of Cobar and Brock Lawrence and Katie Abbott from Brocklehurst were recognised for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances after they helped to save Jamie’s life in 2014.

Brock and his partner Katie were at their home about 300 metres from the accident site when they heard two loud bangs. Katie went outside and saw some tiny puffs of smoke in the trees. She heard a voice screaming “he‘s burning, he’s burning”.

“I went to get Brock and grabbed the small fire extinguisher we had purchased two days earlier,” she said.

“We drove to the accident and will never forget what we found.”

Katie, who was 37 weeks pregnant, stood behind Brock as he tried to gain access to the crumpled vehicle.

The couple didn’t recognise their neighbour due to the extent of the burns on his face.

Brock used the fire extinguisher to quell the flames taking hold of Jamie’s body.

Katie grabbed a knife from their LandCruiser so that Brock could cut the seat belt.

“I then realised that Jamie’s leg was jammed in the foot well of the badly damaged vehicle,” Brock said.

“I pulled and pulled until Jamie finally came free. I found out later that I had dislocated his hip but that was the least of his worries. He could so easily have been burned alive.”

When Brock and Charles got Jamie out of the car Katie provided first aid assistance.

“His body was still alight and we used jackets and whatever else we could find to try to put out the fire,” she said.

“The ground was still damp from recent rain so I put mud on his boots and legs. The smell of the burning flesh was horrific.

“I had never seen anything like it in my life and in all honesty I didn’t think Jamie would make it. I was quite shocked when he gained consciousness and started to talk.”

Jamie and Karen said they were incredibly grateful for the actions that saved Jamie’s life that day.

It was a number of incredible coincidences that led to his life being saved, he said, which was why he considered it the luckiest day of his life.

To donate to the ride search ‘Dodge’s ride’ at everydayhero.com.