“It is hoped that others equally affected like Neil have been helped to a better future.”
Neil Stewart Fitzer was born on 27 November 1968 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. He was the youngest of five children, a happy baby and got plenty of attention from his parents and siblings.
Neil had a friendly, outgoing nature, meeting everything head-on, which brought several injuries. He had a few broken bones and scrapes falling out of trees and diving into a river, landing on rocks, breaking a leg whilst playing football, and an arm when a ute he was in rolled during his time as a jackaroo. At home or school, he was usually the one to finish the day with some injury.
Following his father’s and older brothers’ footsteps, Neil moved to Sydney to attend The King’s School as a Boarder for his secondary schooling.
Upon completing his schooling, Neil worked in several different industries before deciding to complete a course in building at TAFE. During this period, with his brother Peter, he joined the Old Boy’s Rugby Union Club, playing at weekends, a game he loved.
At one of these games, Neil had a bad fall during a tackle, and his neck was broken, severing his spinal cord. Though doctors were present and the Wales helicopter called to take him to the spinal unit at the Royal North Shore Hospital, the damage was done. Despite excellent medical help, Neil developed pneumonia, which ultimately took his life. Neil was just two months short of his 18th Birthday.
The “Old Boys Union” set up the Neil Fitzer Trust to raise funds for the Royal North Shore Spinal Care Unit to support newly injured spinal cord patients and specific projects.
After many years of such help, the Trust will now be closed, and the monies left in the Trust have been donated to Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.
On Neil’s family’s behalf, a vast gratitude debt goes out to everyone involved with the Trust. “It is hoped that others equally affected like Neil have been helped to a better future through this trust,” said Neil’s mother, Vivien Fitzer.
We would like to thank Vivien and her family for their generosity and for sharing Neil’s story with us.