Gower returns to council duties

FIRE DANGER SEASON: Wattle Range Council chief executive officer Ben Gower is urging residents across the region to clean up their properties, reduce vegetation, fuel and undergrowth and get their bushfire plans in order before the fire danger period is enacted for the summer season. Picture: RAQUEL MUSTILLO

WATTLE Range Council chief executive Ben Gower returned to duty from sick leave yesterday after what he calls a miraculous recovery from a stroke.

A blood clot had affected his brain only four weeks ago and caused him to lose all use of the left side of his body.

However, his determination and the skills of medical and support staff have him 95pc on the mend and a complete recovery is imminent.

Trouble started for Mr Gower in the early hours of May 28 at his home near Millicent.

“I got up at 2am to go to the toilet and I could not walk and I could not talk,” Mr Gower said.

“As we live only 7km from Millicent, I was driven into the Millicent hospital by my wife Sal.

“I was seen by a locum doctor there.

“They also have a neurologist on duty 24/7 via telehealth.

“An ambulance took me to the Mount Gambier Hospital.

“My mother wanted to put me on a RFDS plane and fly me to Adelaide.

“However, my brother is a doctor and he said I would be better off getting treatment at Mount Gambier.”

“Within 48 hours, there were speech therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists on tap.”

Mr Gower said he taught himself to walk and talk again and pushed a walker long distances around the corridors of the Mount Gambier Hospital.

“The care I received at Mount Gambier Hospital was outstanding.

“I think I freaked out some of the rehab people with my recovery … I have bounced back and this is miraculous.

“I am working three days per week for the coming two weeks.

“My doctor wants to ease me back into full-time work.”

The 53 year old attributes hereditary factors for his stroke.

“My grandfather had a couple of strokes while my mother also has high blood pressure.”

He was an apology from the June 9 monthly meeting but he sat in the public gallery on Tuesday night at the special council meeting in Millicent when the revised 2020/21 draft business plan and budget was presented by staff for adoption.

Mr Gower and the other members of the public gallery left the supper room of the Millicent War Memorial Civic and Arts Centre after the council resolved to go into confidence and discuss a 31-page staff report about the leasing of land surrounding the Millicent airport.

During his four-week absence, his deputy and corporate services director Paul Duka had been the acting administrative head of council.

Mr Gower is the longest-serving council chief executive in the region following his appointment in 2016.