The community of Wentworth Falls is getting behind one of its own.
Andrew Jakeman, 62, suffered third degree burns after a fiery collision with a truck on the Great Western Highway in Blaxland shortly before Christmas. He will be the focus of a February fundraiser.
Family friend and prominent Australian music supervisor Gary Seeger, who lives in Wentworth Falls and has worked on TV and film productions such as Rake and The Sapphires movie, is organising the mid-February fundraiser in the hope it will lift the family’s spirits. With artist wife, Sophie, the pair hope a local eatery and sponsors will jump on board.
“A lot of people in the village have asked us how we can help them and we thought this is one way for them to know how much we are thinking of them,” Mr Seeger said.
“The Jakemans are real foodies so it seems an appropriate way to show them our appreciation — they have been such a big part of our community for so long,” Mr Seeger said.
Andrew Jakeman was returning to his Wentworth Falls home on Friday, December 14 after donating blood in Penrith, when his motorcycle was involved in the crash. The bike caught fire after becoming trapped under the bullbar of a prime mover with semi-trailer and his body was engulfed in burning fuel. A number of brave onlookers pulled him from the flames and quick-thinking shopkeepers on Blaxland’s main shopping strip brought out a hose to douse the flames. Andrew and his wife Sandra ran the popular Jakemans Framing business for a decade but sold the business a year ago (it is now called Hope Tree Framing).
The pair was looking forward to retirement and enjoying more time with their five grandchildren. Mr Jakeman had recently returned from an epic motorbike ride to Darwin and back and was preparing for a motorbike adventure through Africa next year. Those plans have been cancelled with Mrs Jakeman, who praised the heroes who saved her husband’s life in the fire, telling the Gazette last week that her husband has “nearly died twice” in hospital since surviving the frightening crash.
“He will be up and down for months, we’re just mindful with grafting and burns that it’s a rollercoaster,” she said. “We nearly lost him twice in the last three weeks, it’s been really scary. Things can just go pear shaped with burns. Every time I go up there (Royal North Shore) there’s another surgeon to talk to.”
Mr Jakeman is still in the intensive care unit with burns from the waist down. He is also now on kidney dialysis. If all goes well he will spend another four months in hospital with regular follow-up visits for ongoing surgery.
Because of the threat of infections the grandchildren have only been able to visit him once.
“The five of them have all been in to see him once because the four-year-old wanted to know if grandpa was still on fire. We are getting there one day at a time.”
Mrs Jakeman said she was overwhelmed that people want to help them and “flabbergasted” by the generosity of the community.
The story touched the hearts of the Mountains community, with the Gazette receiving numerous comments via Facebook and the website over the holiday period. One respondent, Kairakau, wrote “I always feel so inspired when I hear of people banding together to help one another, especially in situations like this. It’s too easy to just walk or drive right by without stopping to help”.
Some of those involved in Mr Jakeman’s rescue may be put forward for bravery awards.
To get involved in the fundraiser or donate prizes contact Gary Seeger on 0432 243 079 or firstname.lastname@example.org.