Help Ian get beach wheels

Help Ian Smith get back on the beach by helping raise funds for a beach wheelchair at The Sands Hotel Wednesday night.
Help Ian Smith get back on the beach by helping raise funds for a beach wheelchair at The Sands Hotel Wednesday night. supplied

SURFBOARD glasser and "all round top bloke" Ian Smith suffered a stroke last year while surfing at Bilinga.

Fortunately Mr Smith struggled to shore where the alarm was raised by two passers-by, yet he is still wheelchair-bound.

My Daily News surf reporter Andrew McKinnon will MC a beach wheelchair fundraiser at The Sands Hotel Coolangatta on Wednesday.

He said as Bilinga could be so deserted Mr Smith's survival was "beyond fortunate".

"Ian suffered a second stroke while in hospital, was left unable to walk and struggles with speech and co-ordination," Mr McKinnon said.

"It's meant a massive adjustment.

"Until that point Ian's life was heavily focused on surfing and glassing boards - there are probably very few surfers in the Byron-Tweed-Gold Coast region who haven't ridden a board glassed by Ian at some stage."

He said Mr Smith's art developed from humble beginnings working under the legendary Joe Larkin of Newcastle.

"Ian went on to work with several other of Australia's most respected board makers: Bob McTavish, San Juan, and Warren Cornish right through to DHD, JS and many more.

"Ian also made his own fins at one stage, and had opened one of the first surf shops in Byron Bay, East Cape, about 35 years ago.

"Ian had just come home from a trip getting barrelled in the Maldives, and was working at Base just months before his stroke."

The incident was a "huge shock", Mr McKinnon said, "one minute Ian was happy and healthy and surfing; the next he's wheelchair-bound and in full-time care".

"We're aiming to raise enough money to buy Ian a beach wheelchair so he can access the beach again.

"They're around $5000.

"If we raise anything over that, it will go towards making things a little easier for him - helping out with things like carers or kitting the car out to put a wheelchair in it.

"Let's get Ian mobile and back down to the beach he loves so much."

A screening of Teahupoo Uncut and live music by the Core Vets and Dan Hannaford will feature at the event.

Auction items include Bob McTavish and John Harris shaped boards, DVDs and CDs from Warner Music, surf coaching lessons, a family pass to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, framed artworks and prints and much more.

Tickets are $10 at the door and Mr McKinnon said additional donations were still welcome. He encouraged people to spread the word and, of course, attend on the night from 6.30-9.30pm (Qld).

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Topics:  fundraiser surfer