Meet Selwyn

Selwyn Jensen describes himself as a country boy who always wanted to be a farmer. He did just that, becoming a sheep farmer to rebel against his cow cocky dad, Selwyn jokes. But a car accident on Anzac Day in 2003 put an end to his career when Selwyn injured his spine. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury.

That might be where the story ends for some, but for Selwyn it was just the beginning.

This coming Anzac Day will mark 15 years since his accident, and what Selwyn’s achieved in that time would put many of us to shame.

“I suppose it’s changed my outlook. One, I’m thankful to be alive, because by rights I shouldn’t be here, so then you live with a whole different attitude, I suppose,” Selwyn says.

It probably helps that Selwyn had a massive work ethic in his previous life, often doing 30 days straight as a shearer. Others agree he hasn’t slowed down, in fact, they say he’s hard to keep up with.

“All I wanted to do when I broke my neck was get a job, because that’s what I’d always done – work,” says Selwyn. “So I got a volunteer job.”

For 10 years Selwyn helped kids at a local school with their reading. And he still visits a retirement village every Tuesday to “talk rubbish”, which in Selwyn speak probably means going along for a cuppa and chat with the residents.

Selwyn admits he likes getting out and about, seeing the Silver Ferns whenever they play in Palmerston North, and going to concerts, like Alanis Morissette in Taupo over summer.

But his number one passion is hand cycling.

He picked up a hand cycle that was being returned to ACC and agreed to take it on and modify it.

Since then he’s competed in events, the biggest one being 40km as part of the Round the Lake challenge in Taupo. He’s also been around Mt Taranaki a few times.

Now hand cycling is where it’s at for Selwyn. In fact, cycling is where it’s at for his entire care team because as Selwyn says it’s part of their job. Selwyn receives 24 hour care from HealthCare New Zealand and his support workers join him for a ride around the neighbourhood a couple of times a week.

“The first cycling event I went in, my whole team went in. It was a great day. Now we look back on it and think how little it was. But it was good, everyone got a buzz.”

Selwyn says he’s got a fantastic team with HealthCare New Zealand, backed by great support from ACC.

“I’ve got the loveliest [ACC] case manager at the moment. I’d like to give her a hug because she’s just so good. I ask her about something, and it’s done. I don’t ask for too much, but she’s just so efficient.

We’re so lucky to have ACC in this country. The only way we can pay them back is to have a good life.”

Selwyn also plays wheelchair rugby and is involved with his local Parafed. He enjoys going to shearing shows, including the penultimate Golden Shears in the Wairarapa.

For now, he’s taking a break from hand cycling while an electrical fault is being seen to. There are no tournaments on the horizon, but Selwyn’s keeping an eye out for an event between 15 and 50km, for when the bike is back on track.

Selwyn’s plans for the future also include setting up a hand cycling club and running a quiz at the local Irish pub, which he’s been contemplating for a while.

“I just need to grow a pair and do it,” says Selwyn.

That attitude seems to have stood him in good stead, and we wish Selwyn and his team the best for the next race when his bike is back in action.

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