It’s hard to imagine anyone having a tougher start to life than Peter Horne.
He was born in 1953 with Amniotic Band Syndrome. No need to google it … he was born without all four limbs.
“I spent the years of my life at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay,” Peter says. “There, a wonderful women, Sister Loyola, had the grace and patience to persevere with preparing me for life ahead. She had the idea of strapping a spoon to my right ‘arm’, and that became my first prosthetic.”
“I got me first legs as a three year old. And they replaced the spoon with a hook and an opposing plate on the left ‘arm’. It mightn’t sound fantastic, but it allowed me to get going on my own. I wasn’t necessarily the six million dollar man, but a six dollar boy at least!”
With the artificial limbs, Peter developed a legendary stubbornness … and a new nick name : ‘Hooks’. At school, and later in his work life, he became renowned for giving anything a go, no matter what the seeming odds.
“People were pretty sceptical whenever I turned up for a work interview,” Peter laughs. “But I talked myself in to becoming an automatic lathe operator, a forklift driver … even a railway signalman. I would put my ‘hand’ to anything just to prove that I could do the job!”
“I gained a reputation as a bit of a MacGyver because I would have to find all sorts of new and different ways of doing things.”
“It was the same with sports. I’d always played all sorts of sports … pool, darts and table tennis. So giving bowls a go wasn’t unlikely. Dad was a good bowler, so I joined the Taita Bowling Club in 1978 where he played.”
“I became pretty good at it. Dad and I teamed up a lot in the able-bodied bowls, and we won a few club titles and centre titles … the first against George Benvenuti and Lou Cancian who belonged to the Naenae Club.”
But it was acknowledging the role of disabled bowlers like himself where Peter has made a major impact … his credentials are outstanding as both a player and an administrator.
Peter was a founding member and President of the New Zealand Disabled Lawn Bowls Association which encourages the disabled community to participate and compete in lawn bowls.
At the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games, he won Gold in the LB3 Men’s Singles and Bronze in the LB2 Men’s Pairs. He also attended the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta.
Peter was selector, coach. manager and player for the New Zealand team at the 1993 Adelaide World Disabled Bowls … he’s had 10 World Disabled Bowls tournament wins.
He was heavily involved with the hosting of the Disabled World Bowls Championship in the Hutt Valley in 2015, and the Disabled National bowls Tournament in Wellington in 2018.
“These days I like to get out to schools and talk about disabilities, and in particular disabilities and sport. I’m also pretty tied up with coaching out of the Naenae Bowling Club, and helping people with disabilities into sport.”
“I always think about the huge help I got in not only getting into sport and bowls, but enabling the lifestyle I’ve enjoyed for the last 68 years. I was lucky to be born in New Zealand … we have the best artificial limb fitters in the world supported by the best doctors in the world. And in the last 68 years, the technology’s moved from a spoon strapped to my right arm to space-age lightweight plastics and robotics.”
“I owe a debt of gratitude to limbmaking pioneers of the likes of Arthur Thompson, Joe Rastorfer and Geoff Goddard. I’m constantly reminded of what they’ve done for me when I put all four on in the morning, and take them off last thing at night.”
“This New Zealand Order of Merit is as much for them, as it is for me.”
That may be so Peter. But you’re certainly a worthy recipient!