Like most children, I had heroes, and the heroes I chose have in certain ways shaped my life. The first was fighter pilot Douglas Bader, who lost both legs in an aircraft crash but talked his way back into the Royal Air Force and became one of its most decorated pilots in World War II. I knew his life story by heart because, as a small child, I had polio and spent much of my childhood unable to walk, so I read instead. My second hero was cricketer Don Bradman. Being flat on my back in splints over a period of years, I spent a lot of time listening to the wireless and grew very fond of cricket. Bradman retired very shortly after I was born, so I never saw him play. What was important to me was that not only was Bradman the best, he was Australian. My other great hero just happened to be a woman, the scientist Marie Curie. But she was a hero not because she was a woman, wife and mother, but rather, because she triumphed over poverty and adversity to become one of the world’s greatest scientists. So, from quite early on, I was fiercely Australian, fascinated by the notion of research, determined that handicap was a challenge rather than an impediment, and very familiar with the inside of hospitals.
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