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A virtual tour of Australia

on Tuesday, May 27, 2014

He is known as Positive Pat around the Sinnamon Park aged care home where he lives, and it’s not hard to see why.

When Patrick Passfield arrived at Wesley Mission’s Jacobs Court in June 2012 he was just out of brain surgery and bound to a wheelchair.

Now he is completing virtual walk tours all around Australia.

With a pedometer permanently attached to his belt, Patrick has clocked up the distance of Cairns to Brisbane and back, all without leaving Sinnamon Village.

At the moment he is ‘coming home’ from Melbourne and expects to ‘reach’ Sydney in time for his 74th birthday on June 19.

Patrick walks at least 10-16 kilometres every day, getting up at half past five every morning to knock off a few before breakfast.

He then sets sails sail to do the residents’ grocery shopping, deliver the post and walk the village dog.

“Wherever the map takes me, I walk the distance,” he said.

Every night he diarises his travels to keep on top of his progress and record the highlights of his journey.

Patrick knows he has overcome formidable odds to get where he is today.

“Before the brain surgery I had six kidney stones removed, so I gave everything away, sold my house, gave my kids some money,” he said.

“It got to the stage where someone was going to flick the switch, but no, here I am again.”

An avid squash player and lover of ballroom dancing, Patrick could not stand having to wait around for someone to wheel him where he wanted to go.

“Positive Pat can also be Pig-Headed Pat, because when I’m told ‘you can’t do that’ I turn around and say, ‘yes I can’.”

Yet Patrick insists he could not have done it alone.

He attributes his remarkable recovery to the nurses, physiotherapists, hydro therapists, doctors, day therapy and care staff who have guided and supported him through his journey.

“There’s inspiration all the way down the line.”

For his very first virtual walk, from Sinnamon Park to Cairns, Patrick raised over $500 for Diabetes Queensland, a charity close to his heart.

“I had Type Two diabetes myself, which I walked off, much to the delight of my doctor,” he said.

Patrick is clearly proud of his achievements, but he is not a man to rest on his laurels.

“I started my second life the day I turned 73.”

Thirty-two kilograms lighter and feeling more ready than ever, Patrick has set his sights on the Bridge to Brisbane in September.

This time he is walking on behalf of Wesley Mission.

“I’m trying to give something back to the people who gave everything to me.”

It’s not all work and no play, though. Patrick’s renewed vitality has given him the strength to pursue other hobbies.

Between cabaret dancing and fishing trips, he also finds time to tend the one acre of herb and vegetable garden left in his charge.

“I’ve got about 100 Roma tomatoes ready to go here.”

As he continues to enjoy every moment, Patrick never forgets the original motivation behind it all.

Once deprived the use of his legs, now he can’t seem to let them rest.

“I’ve had a pretty good clearance so far, so I just keep on walking.”

Image: Patrick crosses the finish line to 'Cairns' last year. CONTRIBUTED.