GIVE Program Rocks Neil’s World

By Tessa Harding

Brand Engagement Manager

A set of lapidary tools funded by Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program is giving Nannup local, Neil Roper, back his independence after he suffered a brain injury.

Lapidary is the cutting, polishing and engraving of stones and gems. Neil got into the hobby after acquiring a number of rocks from his wife’s grandfather, Bob, when he passed away. Neil’s wife Narelle brought him a drill with a few attachments last year and he started experimenting.

“I was extremely close to Bob. He was one of my best friends. Doing something that he also enjoyed is a nice way to feel close to him,” Neil said.

“Sitting outside for hours at time working with my hands and focusing on the task is enormously therapeutic for me. It gets me out of the house too.”

Seeing the positive effects that lapidary was having on Neil’s mental wellbeing, Therapy Focus Physiotherapist Deborah Mitchell suggested that Neil apply to the GIVE Program for a grant to purchase more tools.

Neil Roper polishing some stones

Pictured: Neil Roper

Neil’s application was successful and he received equipment that has enabled him to work on the stones to a higher standard, and explore the possibility of turning his hobby into a business.

“The new tools have allowed Neil to prepare stones for sale and potentially generate a source of income, Deborah said.

“He has a work space set up in his shed where he can go each day to enjoy his hobby, as well as some downtime, which has significant benefits for his mental health – which is just as important as the physical work that I do with Neil as his physio”

In addition to sourcing stones from his local area, Neil has enjoyed sourcing raw and more exotic stones from afar online – and has run a market stall twice selling tumbled stone, rock slices and other gems.

“Lapidary has made a huge difference to my quality of life,” Neil said.

“It’s not just a hobby for me – it gives me something to do with my mind. It’s mentally stimulating and very rewarding.”

“Lapidary allows me to have independence and work on something at leisure. Whether I’m having a good or a bad day, and whether it’s for 10 minutes of 2 hours, I just love it.”

Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program is made possible by generous donations from the WA community. Learn more about the GIVE Program here.

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