Interviewed by Veronica Farmer for www.madebeautifulbyscars.com
Eight years ago I founded an organization called the International Anti Poaching Foundation. The idea that began it all was to end wild life crime on the frontlines in Africa. At one time I was living a drug fuelled war-scarred life, I have been a hunter, a military man and a mercenary in 12 tours of Iraq and now I devote my life to protecting the hardest animals to protect and doing all I can to preserve a dying treasure, our rhinos and elephants of Africa.
Growing up I believed in the whole fairytale idea of marriage. That one day I would meet that special woman, we’d have this perfect relationship, work well together, grow together and want to have sex everyday!
Well, life just isn’t like that, well it wasn’t for me, not in the beginning. I was in the last year of medical school, 25 years old and I met a woman in her early 30s. She was from North America, fascinating and visiting Australia. Six weeks later I took her to meet my parents. It was not a good evening. In only a sentence or two I explained to them that here was my new girlfriend who was not Jewish (a kind of big deal in a Jewish family) she was pregnant and we were going to get married the next day. They didn’t come to the wedding.
Image by www.michelepocknee.com
I do feel very privileged for all of the experiences in my 34 years on earth; the vast majority of which have been positive but there have been a number of challenges as well. It is the challenges that define us, and give us our greatest lessons. The game of basketball has given me a great deal, having accepted a scholarship to attend university in the United States, representing Australia at a World Junior Championship, travelling the world and playing professionally for a number of years. I worked incredibly hard for each of those opportunities and feel proud of what I achieved, although I do believe I failed to reach my full potential in the game which is somewhat difficult to accept. I do feel that I had a different calling in life and retrospectively, I can see how each of the events I experienced and decisions I made pushed me into the place I am now.
It’s New Year’s Eve 2014 and I’m with family and their friends in Singapore.
“Smile” they said.
I was suicidal.
“Brendan, are you going to call your girlfriend before the count down?”
I didn’t have one. We broke up a few weeks ago, just like the previous girlfriend about the same time in 2013.
Photography credit to Daniel Linnet
My story begins before my ideal birthdate. I was born 15 weeks early, only the size of an average palm. I have had 52 operations since I was born. I am legally blind and have cerebral palsy but this has not stopped me from living an incredible life in the public arena.
Upon my premature arrival I was immediately rushed into intensive care with a multitude of problems. At three days old I had a massive bleed on my brain that required surgery. My lungs were far too immature to let me breathe by myself and I also had to have a lung and heart operation. All this within the first few days of life!
At this stage I weighed only 600-grams (just over a pound) which, for the wonderful doctors who operated on me was a huge headache. I, as you can tell, survived these early operations – a clear sign of my determined personality.
What losing my whole immediate family from drugs taught me about life...
When I was three years old I went to foster care for the first time. When I was four my mother went to prison for dealing heroin. My father was a violent alcoholic and drug taker as well. I grew up between foster homes and moving back and forth between each parent’s home.
When I was eleven my 14-year old brother was murdered by my mother's heroin dealer and 9 months later my sister committed suicide overdosing on heroin. She was my brother’s twin.
Photography by Lindsay Moller
There are family movies of me before I was around five and I did not have a stutter, but at some point, it suddenly arrived. It did knock my confidence in my early school years, not being able to confidently communicate. I worried about what people would think of me.
About 8 years old I picked up the guitar. I grew up and still live in a small town in NSW called Wauchope and a retired country singer, who lived around the corner, saw my interest in the guitar and started to give me lessons. I was 9 years old when I first played in front of the whole school. I felt that first feeling of being on stage, the rise of energy within, that transports you outside yourself.
In 2008 I was 200 kilos.
My name is Lance Garbutt and this is the story of how I found myself in that place, claimed back my life and the lifestyle I now live. I am 31-years old, living the life of a bucket lister and enjoying every moment of it but it wasn’t always this way.
My inspiration to live a bucket-list lifestyle came after I realised how much money I had saved after I stopped spending it on things that were not serving me. I wondered what possibilities the world could offer to help me enjoy my life. Virtually most of my life had been spent as a video gamer and paying no attention to the outside world.
Interviewed by Veronica Farmer, Author and Creator of www.madebeautifulbyscars.com global healing storytelling series. Interview photography by Michele Pocknee from www.michelepocknee.com
My parents owned a music store when I was born. My Dad was a professional pub musician so I had music in my veins and was always singing as a child. My parents split up when I was 3 years old.
Rugby, soccer, cricket, skate-park – all sports were my thing as a kid. I was a total adrenaline junkie and went skydiving for my 14th birthday. I had a lot of energy and it needed to go somewhere.
I started out screaming heavy metal music as a 13 year old. Something about it helped me get out a lot of rage and the classic teenage angst.
Interview live at 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival by Veronica Farmer.
Photography byMichele Pocknee
Image by www.michelepocknee.com from Tamworth Country Music Festival 2017
I was born and raised in the far western outskirts of Melbourne. It was a fairly idyllic life. My parents are still together now and life was good.
When I was 17 I had an eating disorder, which is pretty unusual for a guy. I was a big kid, 130 kilos at 16 years old. There was a girl I really liked and I didn’t know how to get her to see me. I figured that I was the fat kid, so she wasn’t going to be interested or notice me. That’s how it began. I wanted to change the way I was and to be seen by her.
Made Beautiful By Scars...