Fundraiser for miner s unfinished business
Sundance widow Ann Jones and son Bill. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

During the three months that Bill Jones lay in a coma on the verge of death after a drug overdose, his father John quit his high-powered job as a mining executive in Brisbane and picked up work on a construction site in Perth so he could be close to his boy.

When Bill opened his eyes, he knew life would never be the same again. He phoned his dad at work. "The first two words I said were, 'This sucks'," Bill said yesterday.

Bill, found choking on his vomit with a needle in his arm in 2004, said the short space of time when he was deprived of oxygen left him with an acquired brain injury.

He is wheelchair-bound and lost some use of his hands and arms.

In the early days before years of painstaking physical rehabilitation, when he couldn't move at all, his father's support helped Bill come to terms with his drastically changed life.

"He was my rock," Bill said.

Bill misses the use of his arms and legs. But he misses his father, his "best mate", even more.

Two years ago today, John Jones and the other five directors of WA iron ore miner Sundance Resources were among 11 people killed when their small charter plane crashed in the Republic of Congo.

A week before his tragic death in 2010, Mr Jones met Brightwater Care Group chief executive Penny Flett, the woman behind a ground-breaking centre dedicated to helping people with acquired brain injuries; people like Bill.

Dr Flett said Mr Jones had agreed to spearhead fundraising for an expansion of their Oats Street facility in East Victoria Park. And then the tragedy struck in West Africa.

Bill and Mr Jones' widow Ann will tonight be guests of honour at a Brightwater event they hope will raise the last $2 million needed to expand Oats Street.

Sitting in the Paddington Alehouse in Mt Hawthorn, tears streaming down her cheeks, Ms Jones said the "vision" for Oats Street and her late husband's other charitable work would be his lasting legacy.

One of Mr Jones' best mates, Harry Gross of Rio Tinto, said the night would be about helping the late miner finish what he started.

One in 45 Australians who suffer strokes, sports injuries, car accidents or drug overdoses end up with an acquired brain injury.

At Oats Street, sufferers relearn how to talk, walk, swallow and perform all the day-to-day functions healthy people take for granted.

Dr Flett said the $20 million upgrade would see the facility's 27 beds expanded to 43.

Legacy group Miner's Promise said yesterday it was discussing with the WA Museum erecting a commemorative sculpture to the men and women of mining on the museum's Francis Street site.

But even without "a statue of Dad", Bill said his father would live on, in the lives he had touched and the people he had helped.

For more information about Jonesy's Vision and Brightwater Oats Street visit <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.thinkaboutit.org">www.thinkaboutit.org </a>.au or contact Heiko Plange on (08) 9202 2816.

The West Australian

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