Trent Ferrier loved an active outdoor lifestyle, surfing waves on his boogie board or paddling in a kayak along the River Murray closer to home.

Now he’s sold those reminders of the life he used to enjoy after a freak accident in the surf at Port Elliot left him with spinal injuries.

His energy is now channelled into something he once took for granted — walking.

As an incomplete quadriplegic, which means his spinal cord was crushed but not severed, he has no feeling from his chest down and during his rehabilitation was warned that walking would not be possible.

But he has surprised everyone, including himself and wife Kathy, by finding a way to walk with the assistance of a walking frame.

“Since we came home and we managed to throw the OHS [Occupational Health and Safety] book out the window and push the boundaries a bit, I’ve got to a stage which no-one ever thought I could,” Mr Ferrier said.

Despite not having any sensation below the chest, Mr Ferrier has taught himself to walk with the assistance of a frame.(ABC Riverland: Catherine Heuzenroeder)

It’s taken huge determination and persistence to achieve this mobility.

Five mornings a week, he works with a carer and his wife to build his strength using walking frames, weights and hydrotherapy to control limbs he can no longer feel.

“I haven’t really got any feeling below my chest, including my arms and hands,” Mr Ferrier said.

‘I knew I was in big trouble’

The accident that changed his life was at Easter 2018 at Horseshoe Bay in Port Elliot after the couple made a snap decision to head away from their home in Berri in the Riverland for a couple of days.

“I got a wave that dumped me headfirst into the ocean floor,” Mr Ferrier said.

Just before the accident he had retired and was planning a big adventure travelling around Australia.

“At the age of 60 I bought my first new car in my life, a 4WD that I did up,” Mr Ferrier said.

“My biggest idea was never to see another winter. I would go up north for winter then be back here for summer.

A new van has made life easier for Trent and Kathy Ferrier, and they are now hoping to travel.(ABC Riverland: Catherine Heuzenroeder)

Riverland community fundraising

Community fundraising after the accident has allowed the couple to purchase a new van, which has been modified with NDIS funding.

Now Mr Ferrier is able to get in with a lifter at the back of the van and then transfer to the front passenger seat.

“It is so good. I would stay home rather than go out because it was such hard work,” Mr Ferrier said.

The couple joke about Mrs Ferrier being in control at the wheel.

“Early on Kathy asked whether I had any advice about her driving and I said, ‘I wouldn’t know because I had my eyes closed the whole time’,” Mr Ferrier said with a laugh.

Both find laughter the only way to cope with the huge adjustment to their plans and lifestyle.