Father of the Year Richard (Jim) Baldry is looking forward to playing with his children on this GTX155 jet ski donated by Sea Doo.
Father of the Year Richard (Jim) Baldry is looking forward to playing with his children on this GTX155 jet ski donated by Sea Doo. Max Fleet

Top dad rewarded

WHEN Queensland Father of the Year Richard Baldry spent his winner's cheque on his children, he had no idea they would turn around and give him a gift of their own.

The champion dad was given the state-wide parenting honour early last month - a prize that came with a handy $3000 cheque.

But Mr Baldry, a father to 15 foster and adopted children, was too humble and immediately spent his winnings on caring for the family.

Daughter Skye-Blue Baldry took quick action, emailing Bundaberg Sea Doo and pleading that they help realise her father's newfound dream - to get behind a new jet ski.

Sea Doo went one better and, to Mr Baldry's delight, decided he would be a worthy recipient of his own to keep.

“I couldn't believe it when they called up and said they were going to donate a jet ski. I just love the water and needed an upgrade,” Mr Baldry said.

A 40-year-old runabout boat had been his mode of aquatic transport prior to the jet ski, but its days were numbered. And, after a test ride on the Sea Doo range, he could not wait to hit the water again with the children.

“I've always loved the water and I think one of the best memories with all the kids growing up has been going out on the boat and riding on the tubes, so they are really looking forward to it as well,” he said.

“I have the 4x4 motorbike and the kids love riding that, but this will just be awesome.”

Mr Baldry has been wheelchair-bound since he was 19, after a tree-felling incident crushed his vertebrae and snapped his right leg from the knee down.

“That's why the jet-ski is so good. I can still have that freedom and play with the kids, because I miss out on doing a lot of the other things,” he said.

Desmond-John Loeskow from Sea Doo said the business was more than happy to get behind Mr Baldry.

“We read Skye-Blue's email and decided straight away that we could help out. He definitely deserves it and he needs a new sea craft so hopefully he enjoys it,” he said.

Mr Baldry is not only a father to 15 children between the ages of two and 32, he also works with intellectually disabled men and teaches leather work at a number of rehabilitation centres.

“I wanted to give him something in return for all his hard work over the 20 or more years, something that is for him and that can not be taken away from him or put towards us,” Skye-Blue said.

“He never once complained about tasks being too hard for him.”

Sea Doo are asking for anybody interested in donating to help subsidise the jet-ski, valued at more than $17,000, to visit Bundaberg Sea Doo in the PMR building at 89-101 Enterprise Street.



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