Hugo gets special mention for Disability Action Week

Our Employment & Training client Hugo Southcott featured in the Wynnum Herald and also received a special mention from the editor for Disability Action Week. Read his inspiring story below:


Construction starts on new Capalaba Centre

The first sod has officially been turned at the building site of Myhorizon’s newest and most ambitious community construction project in the Redlands.

Let the building work commence! From L-R: Ian McDougall Estate Trustee Nathan Hardman, Redland City Mayor Mayor Karen Williams, Ian McDougall Estate Trustee Ken McDonald, and Myhorizon CEO Joe Gamblin and Vice President Dr Wayne Clarke turn the first sod at Myhorizon’s new Capalaba Centre.

Attending the special event this morning was Redland City Mayor Mayor Karen Williams, Myhorizon CEO Joe Gamblin and Vice President Dr Wayne Clarke, and Trustees from the Ian McDougall Estate – Mr Ken McDonald & Mr Nathan Hardman – who have donated $450,000 to construct a purpose-designed early intervention facility within the Centre.

Mr Gamblin said the multi-million dollar project would bestow significant benefits on the local community.

“This is probably the biggest community services infrastructure project in Redland City and we are proud to have the support of Council to make this exciting initiative possible.

“Myhorizon’s Capalaba Centre will deliver strong economic benefits for the community not only in terms of jobs created through the construction period but also the additional staff we will be employing through growth from the NDIS,” he said.

Mayor Karen Williams agreed the Centre would boost economic activity in Redland City.

“This project will inject an estimated $8 million into the local economy through construction investment and new jobs and it will provide Myhorizon with a platform from which to add more services when the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rolls out in coming years.

“Our community will gain life-changing services through the new centre once it is operational later this year and through the NDIS service streams”.

Mr Gamblin said the Ian McDougall Centre for early intervention therapy services would in particular enable expansion of Myhorizon’s existing popular service to support parents of children with disability under the age of six.

“The new Early Intervention Centre has been purpose-designed. Thanks to the generous support of the Ian McDougall Trust we will be able to reach more parents of children with disability in Redland City and enhance their experience by providing them with access to facilities that are specifically tailored to deliver our Baby Bridges programme and early intervention therapies under the NDIS”.

The new Centre will be built on Council-supported land at 377-385 Redland Bay Road adjacent the popular Redland Indigiscapes Centre. Redland City Council has given Myhorizon a 50-year lease of the footprint of the new building. Other features include space for a family case management service, employment and training services, and a social enterprise.

An opening date in October this year is expected.

No limits for brave Hugo

Hugo Southcott is a remarkable client our Employment & Training service has been privileged to support. Read his incredible story of resilience below..

Hugo Southcott (centre) with John Rivett (left) and Myhorizon’s Employment & Training Wynnum Site Coordinator Graham Henzell (right)

It was 2013 and 15-year-old Brisbane boy Hugo Southcott was having the time of his life. On holiday with family in the Bernese Swiss Alps, the straight-A student and experienced snowboarder was flying down infamous black run, The Schilthorn “Inferno”, a 2970m downhill route immortalised in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

As he hurtled through the incredible vista that surrounded him alongside his uncles and cousins (the Schilthorn offers panoramic views of the Titlis, Jungfrau, Monch, Eiger, Jura and Vosges Mountains, and the Black Forest), Hugo felt he was in his element. It was unimaginable then to think that in just a few minutes’ time he would be fighting for his life…

In a sickening turn of events the Alexandra Hills High School cross country and swimming champion lost control of his snowboard and fell awkwardly, crashing into the slope at speed and breaking his neck at the C6 vertebrae. Critically injured and suffering spinal shock, he was emergency helicoptered to the nearest hospital in Bern and later flown to the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane where he spent the next six months recovering and coming to terms with losing mobility – Hugo has paraplegia with compromised hand dexterity as a result of the accident.

“They had to fuse my vertebrae with metal so my neck can’t be broken again. I don’t even remember exactly how I fell. I was going too fast,” Hugo says. “That’s about as much as I can recall”.

Despite the enormity of the changes and challenges confronting him at such an early stage of life, in the two years following his accident Hugo has shown himself to be the very model of resilience, going on to accomplish a slew of impressive life goals. These include becoming School Captain in his senior years of high school, topping the state academically with an OP of 1, and securing a scholarship to study Law at Queensland University of Technology this year. With the support of Myhorizon’s Employment & Training service he is now also working as a solicitor’s associate.

Solicitor John Rivett, who supervises Hugo, says he has been assisting him to put together due diligence packs, draft documents and trademark applications, and research legislation for giving client advice.

“Having Hugo on the team has been very helpful frankly so I hope he continues on with us,” he said.

For his part Hugo says his accident has motivated him to show people that challenges needn’t put a stop to their dreams, rather those dreams may just change slightly.

“I didn’t necessarily want to be school captain until I had this injury. It made me think that it would show other people that barriers don’t have to stop you from being a leader,” he said. “Everyone voted for me. They believed I would do a good job.”

Originally wanting to be a medical doctor, Hugo said he also had to change his future profession after his accident but not at the expense of the goals that motivated his preferred choice. “I thought of something that would use my effort academically but that would help people as well, so I decided that I should study law. I really focused on my studies in my senior years of high school – I thought I could still do that”.

His story of acceptance and recovery to date would not be complete without his father, Andrew, and mother, Chie Kosaka, who have been at his side since the accident and have faced bills upwards of $50,000 to modify their home, and finance on-going treatment and medication accounts for their son.

“Mum’s been helping me every day with all the things that I can’t do. She’s been helping me most days,” Hugo said.

Chie said her son’s wellbeing is her top priority: “Wherever he wants to go, I’m his legs at the moment, but he’s getting onto driving, so he’s gaining independence. He’s done his first lesson, and he will do another assessment soon”.

The community at large has also been of great support to Hugo and his family in the form of medical, disability, schooling and funding support, for which they say they are eternally grateful.

“We have met so many kind and generous people who have helped us since the accident. We want to give back now and say thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Chie says.