26 November 2019

"Devil Ray" heads back to Burleigh Heads

The Gold Coast is famous for its warm climate and a 24-hour party scene for the young and daring.

Young at heart, 80-year-old Ray’s new motorised scooter is his favourite way to get around. 

Cruising to the Gold Coast Stockland supermarket, wind in his hair, he was doing what anyone would do with new wheels – show them off.

The shiny new machine had arrived a fortnight earlier. It was time to enjoy his new-found freedom and the sunny Queensland day.

Not quite hurtling but with some pace, Ray zipped past two young boys on scooters. Impressed, they stopped to admire his motorised version.

In response to their words of encouragement, Ray gesticulated and one of the boys realised Ray was deaf.

Immediately he began to communicate in sign language. The young boy explained he had a deaf relative, and so he knew how to sign.

“See ya round!” the boy said, as he scooted off with his friend.

Ray beamed. Only a month ago he had been housebound and unable to enjoy these spontaneous events that make up community life: the interactions that satisfy our deep need to belong.  

“Ray had to rely on friends driving him or some other mode of transport,” his Just Better Care Support Professional Tracie says.

“As you get older the buses get tricky. It’s not a matter of striding down to the local bus stop and hopping on. It takes time and a lot of energy."

“Often it’s in the ‘too-hard basket’ and people simply stay at home.” Tracie says organising a scooter was not a spur-of-the-moment decision.

“It’s very important that anything we provide for customers is suitable for them,” she says. “We did a lot of research with Ray on how far he needed to travel and where he wanted to go. Then we found him a scooter to suit.”

Having spent his life on the beach, Ray is now back where he belongs: driving himself to Burleigh Beach where he can fish, watch the waves come in, and check out the surfing competitions.

A motorcyclist, it feels right to be back on the road feeling the breeze and tasting salt air.

“It reminds him of his old motorbikes,” Tracie says, knowingly.

“There’s nothing quite like that feeling for an old biker.”

The Gold Coast is famous for its warm climate and a 24-hour party scene for the young and daring.

When Ray was younger, he knew how to have fun with the best of them. It earned him the nickname “Devil Ray” because he’s never been one to shy away from having a good time.

One time his antics went a little too far and he had an accident, which led to him becoming deaf.

Now with the scooter beneath him, Ray is back out socialising with friends and enjoying a little celebration once in a while.

“Ray still thinks he’s 25 years old,” Tracie laughs. “He doesn’t let anything stand in the way of him enjoying life.”

Safety definitely comes first these days. In sunny Queensland, that means a proper sunshade for his scooter, and all the other accessories.

There is another sign that Ray is thriving with his rediscovered mobility and the support provided by Tracie and her team. It is measured in hours not on the street but at home.

“He seems to be spending a lot of time shining that scooter,” Tracie laughs. "And why not? There’s an undeniable pleasure to enjoying the reflection of tall palms down Broadbeach Boulevard as you navigate the streets you know and love."