Hypodrive founder grasps 1 per cent chance
When Sharon Whitchurch left home for work in 2006, she couldn’t have imagined that 16 years later she’d be organising a charity ball to raise awareness about the dangers of driving with medical conditions.
Yet on 8 December 2021, she made a public call for people to get behind the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball in Maryborough for that reason.
On that fateful day 16 years ago, Sharon, who has since re-married and changed her surname to Bell, was involved in a car accident that almost claimed her life.
Doctors gave her just a one per cent chance of survival and after six weeks in a coma, her life support system was turned off. Two weeks later she woke.
“Investigations revealed the crash resulted from a driver experiencing a hypoglycaemic episode, a condition in which the blood glucose levels drop below 4mmol/L, whereby cognitive functions can become impaired,” Sharon said.
Forty-five operations and years of rehabilitation later, Sharon is living proof that the will to live can overcome such enormous obstacles.
Tragedy leads to Hypodrive
In 2009, Sharon formed Hypodrive, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for awareness about how to stay safe when driving with medical conditions.
She said the best time to educate drivers about the associated dangers was when they were learning.
“Each year in Queensland, there are about 2000 Learner Drivers and 2500 P Platers driving while they have medical conditions,” she said.
“For these young adults, the only legal requirement prior to getting a full driver’s license is to notify the Transport Department that they have a condition.
“All they need is a doctor’s medical certificate stating they are fit to drive.
“The onus is on the drivers to know if their conditions, such as diabetes, which fluctuates, are stable enough to drive.
“With 100 hours of driver training required to get a P Plate license, none of these hours is dedicated to learning how to stay safe on our roads while living with a medical condition.
“This is where Hypodrive’s 5 to Drive program comes in.
“We believe all learners have the right to know what resources are available to them in order to drive safely and help reduce our tragic road tolls.
“The cost for each participant to complete their training is about $500.”
All proceeds from the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball will benefit learner drivers with medical conditions within the Fraser Coast region.
Don masks for Hypodrive charity ball
On 12 February 2022, Fraser Coat Tourism and Events Chair Greig Bolderrow will MC the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball at the Maryborough City Hall.
The popular Fraser Coast show band Soul City will provide music from their repertoire of soul, funk and rock covers.
The event is being supported by the Rotary Club of Maryborough Sunrise, which will run the bar (cash/card available).
Ball tickets cost $130 each and include a three-course dinner (served Canapé style), and some drinks.
To book, and for more information about the Hypodrive and the 5 to Drive Program, visit www.hypodrive.com.au
PHOTO: Sharon Bell (nee Whitchurch) and learner driver Robert Tutton launch the charity masquerade ball campaign.