Tony and Stacey Enchelmaier and children Grace and Joy admire their new ensuite, built by volunteers. Photo: Cade Mooney/178145i
Tony and Stacey Enchelmaier and children Grace and Joy admire their new ensuite, built by volunteers. Photo: Cade Mooney/178145i

Family amazed by community spirit

It was like something out of Backyard Blitz.

When the Enchelmaier family returned to their Mt Coolum home on Friday there were tears, love, surprise, gratitude, applause and a palpable sense of community spirit.

Tony, Stacey and daughters Grace and Joy had been sent away to a holiday unit for a short break while a new wheelchair-friendly ensuite was added on to their home by local tradesmen, volunteers and neighbours.

Project Ensuite started after Tony lost his right leg just below the knee in a motor vehicle accident on May 20, when his Kombi and a Ford Falcon collided on David Low Way just minutes from his home.

Tony and Stacey, though slightly embarrassed by all the fuss, could not hide their delight when they saw the finished ensuite.

“It’s just fantastic,” Tony said.

“This will make life a whole lot easier. There are so many people to thank. It’s hard to think about it and not fill myself up with tears.”

Stacey particularly liked the deep luxurious bathtub near a feature window that looks out over their backyard.

“It brings back memories,” she said

“The first weekend away that Tony took me on was to the Treehouses at Montville about 11 years ago.

“What I loved there was just looking out at the trees. I never thought I would have it in my own home.”

Three-year-old Joy ran in wonder around the large ensuite.

“It’s just like the unit, mummy,” she cried.

Project Ensuite was the brainchild of neighbour Leann Boon, who said building the ensuite on to the house was the only option.

“Their bathroom inside, even if it was gutted and refurbished, was too small to remodel to cater for Tony,” she said.

“So the option was to move.

“And we didn’t want them to move. So we thought, well, if they can get an ensuite, they won’t have to.”

Volunteers also painted the exterior of the house, gave the gardens a facelift and built a fairy garden, complete with wishing pond, for Grace and Joy.

Stacey said once the project got underway, it took on a life of its own.

“I think that really stemmed from the local community just wanting to be able to offer something,” she said.

“We feel like very blessed recipients – very honoured to be receiving so much goodwill.

“We just want the community and the people who have contributed to be acknowledged – the tradespeople, the neighbours – we want the glory to be on them. That’s the people that deserve it.”

Tony, an automotive transmission mechanic and yoga instructor, has had his prosthetic leg for about a month and said he was improving each day.

“It has felt so weird wearing the leg. It feels as though I am walking on a dead leg and it is taking longer than I thought to get used to,” the 33-year-old said

“At the moment I limp and wobble with a walking stick like an 80-year-old man.

“I look forward to getting better on my leg and becoming one of those amputees that you don’t even recognise has a prosthetic limb.

“I really look forward to being able to do some exercise and burn off some energy, for my mind and my body.”

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