Community rallies behind Gatenbys after accident

The physical fitness community has rallied behind popular instructor Sharon Gatenby and her husband Paul as they keep vigil in a Canberra hospital for their seriously injured son.

Currowan Creek’s Mitchell Gatenby, 18, was badly hurt in a vehicle accident on Runnyford Rd, near Nelligen, on Sunday.

Mrs Gatenby is a respected instructor at Batemans Bay’s One Life Gym and spokesman Mace Innes said staff had organised an appeal to help her family with travel and medical expenses.

“It is hard not to be able to go to work and to operate their life as they normally would,” Mr Innes said.

“We are trying as a workplace to help out, but this has touched more than the staff. There are a lot of members who enjoy Sharon’s classes and really respect her.”

He said Mrs Gatenby had worked at One Life since it opened more than three years ago, but had also worked at the gym that previously occupied the premises.

Mr Innes said Mrs Gatenby had helped thousands of people over the years.

“It has been very sad,” Mr Innes said.

“Sharon talks about Mitch quite often in her classes, so we all feel as though we know him quite well. It has really touched everyone here. She has hundreds through every day. It is fantastic to see everyone get behind in this. We have a collection bin up the front and I have had to empty it a few times because it was too full.”

Mitchell’s father Paul was awarded an Australian Bravery Medal in August when he risked his life to save the driver of a petrol tanker that plunged from the highway above into his backyard in 2004.

Grateful family says thanks

Mitchell Gatenby’s family have thanked the Nelligen and Batemans Bay communities and Canberra hospital for their support since the teenager was seriously hurt in a motor vehicle collision with a truck on Sunday afternoon.

“We have a pretty busted up boy,” Paul Gatenby said of his 18-year-old son.

With Mitchell facing several months in hospital and many operations for multiple broken bones and joints, as well as skin grafts, the community has rallied behind the Currowan Creek family.

Paul and his wife Sharon became emotional at the news of a fundraising appeal at One Life Gym, where Mrs Gatenby works and other community support.

Family friends will meet on Friday at 7pm at Nelligen’s Steampacket Hotel to form a committee to support the family in the coming months and supporters should contact Darryl Bossley on 4478 1000.

“It is fantastic and we thank everyone,” Mrs Gatenby said.

“Mitchell and Sharon and I can’t thank people enough,” his father said.

“We have had a lot of support. We almost lost him.”

Mitchell was taken by helicopter to Canberra on Sunday afternoon and underwent surgery yesterday. He is scheduled for another operation tomorrow. 

“He probably has another six operations before they can start the skin grafts,” Mr Gatenby said.

Mitchell suffered serious injuries to the right side of his body, including a broken hip, leg, elbow and foot injuries.

A rod has been inserted in his leg.

“But he has no brain damage, no spinal, no internal injury,” a relieved Mr Gatenby said.

“We are so lucky. They are a good crew up here and his orthopaedic surgeons assure me they can fix him.”    

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