OUR CITY OUR FUTURE: Andrew Mauch
ANDREW Mauch has had to face more hurdles than most, but that hasn't stopped him trying to squeeze the most out of his life.
Born with spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the spinal cord, Mr Mauch has spent his life on crutches.
Nerves in his spinal chord were badly damaged, leaving him with terrible balance and weak legs.
"There are a lot of things I wish I could do, but I just can't,” he said.
"I can't drive any of the farm machinery and climbing up on things is tough.
"I can't really operate any vehicles unless they've been modified with hand controls.”
Mr Mauch said he had his first car modified when he learnt to drive at age 17.
"I've had three cars modified to allow me to drive them since then,” he said.
"It's not cheap but it doesn't really matter what it costs.
"Having a car gives me a huge amount of freedom and independence.”
Living on the family farm at Freestone, Mr Mauch learnt to adapt at a young age and does his share with the jobs that need doing.
"I've got a four-wheel motorbike and I can get out and check the troughs and the stock,” he said.
"I can feed the animals and oversee what's going on.”
Mr Mauch said there was no point whinging about anything.
"I'm used to this now,” he said. "I just try to keep my mind and hands busy.”
Among Mr Mauch's many hobbies is a passion for leather work.
After a stint at a leather work and whip-making school in Stanthorpe in 2006, Mr Mauch has spent the past 11 years honing his craft.
"The late Peter Bondfield got me started and into the association, which was a huge help,” he said.
"And a neighbour of ours, Ivan Gillespie, has taught me pretty much everything else I know.
"I make cow hide whips. If anyone wants one they can find me on Facebook.”
Mr Mauch said he hated school and couldn't wait to get away from it.
"I used to get a hard time from the kids,” he said.
"But I got something good out of it. I went to Scots PGC for Year 10 and was introduced to clay-target shooting there.”
Mr Mauch said his goal was to compete at a disabled world championships for clay-target shooting.
"It's actually on this week, four blokes from Australia are in Italy for the championships,” he said.
"I wanted to go this year, but I had a fall a few months ago, and that set me back.
"I'd have to pay my own way too which is tough.
"I try to get out to shoot every week, but it's hard on the finances. I'm going to need a sponsor to help to get me where I want to go,” he said.
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