Mildura Weekly : Friday September 26 Vol 8 No 47
20 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 Alan Collins – a straight shooter • From previous page “That led to a permanent spot on STV8’s Access Sport program, and I was able to give a voice and profile to some of the smaller sports in Sun- raysia. It was no longer all racing or football. Bowls, croquet, and other less prominent sports were now get- ting a go.” During his time on radio and television, Alan interviewed many visiting sports personalities. “I was lucky to interview some of the sporting legends in Australia. Peo- ple like Geoff Hunt who was world squash champion for years, and footy greats Mick Malthouse, Jim Jess, Kev- in Sheedy and Michael Roach,” he said. Even in those days, Alan wasn’t one to rest on his laurels – entertain- ing speedway enthusiasts with his commentary at Timmis Speedway for 20 years. Interestingly, Alan reckons he has probably had Parkinson’s for more than 20 years. He began noticing occasionally feeling unsteady on his feet...some- times his arms would feel heavy – and he recalls people telling him to hold his head up, or not to shuffle. “I didn’t do anything about it for a long time because it wasn’t affecting me enough, and like most men, I wasn’t ready to acknowledge that there was a problem, even though I knew some- thing was wrong,” he said. “One night at squash, a fellow player, Dr Brian Murphy, noticed that I was shaking and suggested that I should get checked out. “The diagnosis of Parkinson’s, while devastating, came as no sur- prise,andinawayIwasgladtofi- nally put a name to the symptoms. As soon as I went onto the medi- cation my symptoms were ar- rested, and although I have to change and increase my doses, most of the time I feel almost normal. “When the medication wears off, itisasifIamenvelopedinafog,my energy disappears and I can’t walk unaided.” Alan is under no illusions, he knows that Parkinson’s cannot be cured, but he says he is determined not to sit on his backside and feel sorry for himself. When playing squash became too difficult, Alan turned to his other great interest – target shooting. Alan says that shooting generally does not have a high profile in the community. He blames that on the fact that when people hear the words ‘shooting,’ ‘rifles,’ or ‘guns’ they tend to “close their minds.” “They think that guns mean shooting people or animals,” Alan said. “A rifle, for me, is like any other piece of sports equipment – no dif- ferent to having a squash racquet or a golf club, except that I have to be a lot more careful where I leave it, and how it is stored. “There are thousands of people in Australia who own firearms who would never dream of acting in a harmful way,” he said. “In fact the shooting sports demand discipline, and are amongst the safest sports in the world to take part in.” Alan tried various types of shoot- ing, and took to the sport like a duck to water. He attended training camps, spent a lot of time practicing, and was soon winning competitions. He now specialises in ‘bench rest shooting’ where the rifle sits on ad- justable rest at the front and a leather pillow-like rest at the back, similar to those used in Olympic shooting competitions. The rifle he uses fea- tures a barrel tuner and a scope, all of which he can adjust to suit the conditions. Shooting with a rifle that he de- scribes as “state-of-the-art” and one of the best in Australia, Alan’s suc- cess Australia-wide has been remark- able. So how, with Parkinson’s, does he do it? After all, shooting is an in- credibly exact and demanding sport – tiny targets almost invisible to the naked eye must be hit with finite pre- cision. Alan’s secret is that he watches the flags which indicate the wind speed and direction – a vital part of any competition. He looks through the sights, watches the flag’s movement and then squeezes the trigger. “I am probably lucky in that I do not shake too much, and that in the bench rest event we shoot at night when Mildura evenings are often dead calm,” he reveals. Parkinson’s can induce a con- dition called ‘stalling’ where the brain is unable to send the message through to the limb, and the per- son simply cannot move. It can be very frustrating, and distressing, and while Alan has not yet encountered this condition while shooting, he is realistic. “If that begins to happen, it may spell the end of sporting shooting for me,” he says. Meanwhile, Mildura Parkinson’s Support group leader Cheryl Barnes, who was also diagnosed with the condition almost 10 years ago, said Parkinson’s is the second most com- mon neurological condition in Aus- tralia, after dementia. About 170 people are involved in the local group, with about 30 attending meetings, but that is only “the tip of the iceberg,” and by some estimates there are more than 500 patients in Sunraysia. Cheryl said the group offered members a chance to meet and talk with others while offering emotional and practical support. She said that while symptoms worsen over time, medications and therapies can help, and many Parkinson’s sufferers live a long and productive life. “Alan has continued in the sport he loves, and has succeeded in his endeavours although I am sure that some days are a challenge,” she said. “We are all thrilled that he has done so well, but not surprised – he has always been a good sportsman, and he is motivated, determined and stays positive about his capabilities. “Being diagnosed with a de- bilitating illness is a challenge, but it does not mean that those living with PD have to give up everything they enjoy. In fact, keeping active in mind and body is vital, and Alan is testimony to that. He is a fine role model.” • BULLSEYE: Alan with Mildura Parkinson’s Support group leader Cheryl Barnes, and RIGHT, checking one of his recent shooting scores... with a very critical eye! MILDURA (03) 5021 1968 | BERRI (08) 8582 2211 | ROBINVALE (03) 5026 3003 | www.chan-naylor.com.au Traditionally people have used trusts to protect their assets. A trust is useful in this regard as the individual does not own the asset; it is owned by the trust. Therefore, if the individual is sued they have no assets to lose. The individual controls the trust but has no ownership, yet is a beneficiary of the returns on those assets. When being sued, people want your money, not the bricks and mortar or other physical asset that you have. Therefore, you must protect your equity (net worth) not necessarily the tangible assets. 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Friday September 19 Vol 8 No 46
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