'Inspirational' club stalwart honoured

Former Kaikorai Rugby Club team-mates Nick Chisholm (left) and Norcombe Barker were honoured by...
Former Kaikorai Rugby Club team-mates Nick Chisholm (left) and Norcombe Barker were honoured by the club.PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON
A Dunedin rugby club has honoured one of its former players.

It has been 20 years since Nick Chisholm suffered a series of strokes while playing for Kaikorai Rugby Club which left him with locked-in syndrome.

For the past 18 years, he has been on the sideline at most of the premier team’s matches, with the help of his friend Norcombe Barker who picks him up each Saturday.

So, when the club wanted to honour him he had one condition — they honour Mr Barker as well.

At a presentation earlier this month, Mr Chisholm was given some Kaikorai gear — including onesies for his five-month-old triplets and a playing jersey with his number nine on the back — and Mr Barker received a plaque with the club’s crest.

Mr Chisholm said via email he enjoyed the social aspect of watching the games and keeping in touch with his old club.

His old team-mate, Mr Barker, was an "absolutely fantastic guy".

Life with the triplets was an "amazing experience" and his wife Nicola was a supermum, he said.

Mr Barker said his friend’s request was "quite humbling" and a testament to his character.

"I do the easy part," he said.

"It’s quite cool for Chis to catch up with his rugby mates. A lot of people come over and say hello and have a chat."

A key part of the club was looking out for each other, he said.

Watching Mr Chisholm’s progress, which included becoming a wheelchair bodybuilding champion, was "mind-blowing".

"You look at where he was and just what happened to him.

"He’s such a positive character.

"He’s still Nick — he’s not perfect," he laughed.

Club member Johnny Appleby read a speech during the presentation, calling Mr Chisholm an "inspiration".

His positive mindset and belief that nothing could hold him back was evident, and shared by Nicola.

Before his stroke, Mr Chisholm was a quintessential Kiwi who lived his life to the full.

"The fact that he’s done so many things in his life is a true inspiration that life goes on."

Mr Barker’s support was an example of the mateship and selflessness of sport, especially rugby, he said.

"It’s really cool that they have kept that bond they forged on the rugby field, off the rugby field."


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