Part 2

Alex Fullerton has been highlighted in the HT before, for her successful operation of the Sunshine Coast Women Entrepreneurs organisation, and her visit to Nepal with Shed the Light, with her two children alongside. But this just touches the surface of Alex’s story…

by Gay Liddington

“Life is full of amazing moments, and we never know when they are going to happen,” said Alex Fullerton, a woman who has faced life head on, stared down its barrel and survived—several times.

Alex left home at 16, and with her dog Buddha, travelled around Australia. In 2004, she and her two children, aged four and six, ran from the Boxing Day tsunami as it barrelled through Ko Phayam Island. 

The tsunami experience landed the single mother back in Australia distraught and penniless. Driven by self-determination and an indomitable spirit, Alex sold her furniture to pay for a real estate and business training course.

“It didn’t matter because we had a roof over our heads, blankets and the essentials.”

Alex had gained a wealth of administrative, writing and editing skills while backpacking around Europe and Australia. Groundwork for her business.

“I began by giving out my phone number. I learned how to do marketing and I learned how to write a website, figured it out along the way, and Author Support Services, helping self-publishing authors, was born.” 

A Business Woman of the Year finalist in 2015, Alex Fullerton proved that no matter your circumstances, if you have the will, you can achieve anything.

“Along the way, I renovated houses, continued to travel, built my business, and started the not-for-profit group, Sunshine Coast Women Entrepreneurs.

“Because I was a single mum, it didn’t mean that I was at the bottom of the chain, and I should only receive. I wanted to give back, because someone else always needs more—it was important to show my kids that.

“When the kids were 13 and 15, we travelled to Africa and worked in an orphanage. We took 100 pairs of school shoes, plus books and pens we’d gathered from the community at home. 

“We celebrated Ella’s 18th and Flynn’s 21st birthday in Nepal. Flynn trekked to Everest Base Camp and Ella and I went to a village in Southern Nepal, where we helped the women start their own micro business. 

“We bought sewing machines and fabrics in the local market and set up a workshop with them. The purpose was to show how easily we can make a difference to people who have little.”

Thirteen years ago, a friend enticed Alex to a singles event. She quipped: “I was fortunate to be in the room when love walked through the door. Ian was the only one who didn’t have two heads, but he had five children!”

Alex moved from Landsborough to the Fullerton pineapple farm at Beerwah and I figured that her life challenges had ended, but it was not the case. 

On ANZAC Day in 2016, the pair took a rare day off from their busy schedule and, astride Ian’s Harley Fat Bob motorcycle, they headed to Kenilworth for breakfast.

“It was a lovely ride through the mountains. We ended up in Montville for morning tea where I bought a pair of shoes and put them in my backpack.

“Heading for home just out of Montville a car did a U-turn in front of us and stopped in the middle of the road, on the crest of a hill, in an 80km zone. Ian tried avoidance action, but the woman panicked, put her foot on the accelerator instead of the brake and smacked right into us.

“I woke up facing oncoming traffic and thought, I’ve got to get off the road. I shuffled along on my elbows because my legs wouldn’t work and rolled onto the verge. I couldn’t see Ian who had stayed on the bike and got it to the other side of the road, then rolled onto the ground.

“I had neck, shoulder and leg injuries and my foot was broken in a couple of places. My foot healed fairly quickly, but it took a long time for Ian to come good. He has pins in his foot, had his knee replaced, and developed cellulitis. We almost lost him.”

About a month after the accident, Alex became carsick, anxious, and slept a lot. Around a year later, they diagnosed her with post-concussion syndrome and an acquired brain injury.

“I now receive NDIS support and carers come to assist. It’s been five years since the accident and just this week, I got my driver’s licence back,” said Alex, excited at the thought of this move towards independence.

At the time of the accident, Alex was at the peak of her career. Finalist for Business Woman of the Year, public speaking, facilitating workshops, and Sunshine Coast Women Entrepreneurs had reached 2500 members.

“My star was rising. I was on fire, and I loved it! Then, suddenly, I couldn’t wash my hair, I couldn’t go to the shops, and I was sleeping 20 hours a day. It was a big shock, but I’m glad I didn’t shut my business. I just put some things in place so I could quickly pick it up again and because I didn’t know that I would not come back to what I was, the things that I put in place temporarily, have become permanent.

“I have a team of 12 working with me. I do the consulting and am the public face of the business. I work part time and it’s good for my mental health. It’s what the mentor advised and what I mentor other women to do with their businesses.

“Don’t do it all yourself. Allow other people to do what they’re good at, and you what you’re good at, to have work/life balance and allow your business to grow.”

To conclude, I reiterate the words of Alex Fullerton, whose resilience and zest for life is inspiring: “Life is full of amazing moments, and we never know when they are going to happen. Some would say it’s luck, but I think it’s just life, and if you aren’t out there living it, you won’t be there when it happens.”

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