Margaret Freemantle

If you have a spinal injury, you’re in a world where no one completely understands you…then you go to Sargood.

Canberra resident, Margaret Freemantle, has lived with an incomplete spinal cord injury for 19 years.

Her injury occurred when she fainted in her home and the fall injured her neck causing damage to her spinal cord at the C5 and C6 level.

Margaret is able to walk but experiences significant weakness in her right side; this includes a spastic right hand and a dropped foot on the right side, significantly impacting her balance. This has kept her from engaging in some of her favourite hobbies like swimming in the surf.

Margaret’s first visit to the resort in January 2020 transformed her outlook on her abilities.

“Sargood gave me a good motivational boost and got me moving again. What really helped me was the dedication and focus I saw in the staff. The whole experience made me reset my goals and realise that I was able to do more than I thought. I left with a much more positive mindset,” she said.

During her first stay, she undertook an intensive therapy program for 10 days, conducted by Gold Coast-based Centre of Recovery, Making Strides. The program, comprised of daily two-hour sessions, really helped her to push herself. The exercise physiologists gave her a range of exercises and stretches aimed at improving her walking and movement.

Margaret’s entire stay was funded by the NDIS. “I am honestly so grateful for that scheme. It is amazing that an experience as incredible as the one I had at Sargood on Collaroy is completely funded by NDIS,” she said.

Due to the nature of her injury, the biggest factor Margaret takes into account when planning a holiday is pain.

“It’s almost like an invisible illness in some ways because people just don’t know how much pain I am in all the time. The beds at Sargood were amazing. Their mattresses are designed for people with spinal cord injuries and I had the best sleeps there. That was a huge thing for me.”

Margaret plans to return to Sargood on Collaroy next summer. She wants to try a range of activities like kayaking, fishing and social activities with other guests. She also dreams of getting back into the ocean, as she relaxed in a salt-water sea pool every morning during her last stay.

“Living in Canberra, you really miss the feel of the ocean. Sargood is in such a beautiful location. When I had the opportunity to enjoy the salt water again (even in a more limited way) and to feel it on my skin I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!”