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Greg Pugh volunteering in Hobart, 2017
Greg was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few days before Christmas, 2008. He soon lost his job and his marriage, experiencing some truly harrowing emotions and entering a bleak period in his life, marred with uncertainty.
“I was essentially sitting on the couch every day, not doing anything,” said Greg.
However, in 2014, Greg made a decision that would transform his life.
Having basic sailing experience, Greg decided to join ‘Oceans of Hope’, a sailing program for people with MS. Soon after, he found himself at Sailors with disABILITIES (SWD) and has become a truly valuable and prolific volunteer crew member.
Since joining the SWD team, Greg’s life has radically changed. He has sailed over 3000 nautical miles on world class 50 foot yachts, competed in the Sydney to Hobart and Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Races, and is a valued volunteer, regularly volunteering in the ‘Winds of Joy’ and ‘Winds of Change’ Programs up and down the east coast of Australia.
In 2015, as part of his transformation, Greg sailed down to Melbourne with the SWD team to help run SWD’s first pilot outreach program in Melbourne.
"The opportunity was invaluable to the children who came on board. I could see them relate to me, with a walking stick and getting involved on the boat. It was fantastic. They kept asking ‘When can you come back?’” said Greg.
“Look, I know what sitting around and not pursuing desires is like. With these children, after spending an hour or two on the boat, they totally transform and start thinking they can totally do this. And that’s what I love the most."
SWD launched a full time presence in Melbourne in 2016.
In 2017, reflecting on all that's changed since his MS diagnosis in 2008, Greg says, “It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind. I don’t sit around much anymore, I’m too busy. It’s just been the most unbelievable positive force in my life.”
“The best part of my story is that it keeps getting better. Getting my Day Skipper and my International Certificate of Competence is something that I never contemplated. I will be sitting my Yachtmaster® Offshore Certificate in a few week’s from now."
I keep challenging myself to do more and get better at what I love.”
You will meet Greg on board a Winds of Joy Program in Sydney or in the Northern Campaign later this year when SWD berths in Newcastle for two weeks.
To learn more about MS, go here.
Read about volunteering with SWD here.
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Greg with Ryan Honschooten in the 2016 Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race