Richard does it tough
ROCKHAMPTON pensioner Richard Wells is a former Queen's guardsman doing it tough.
Battling cancer, influenza and back problems, the 75-year- old hasn't let his predicament get him down.
Mr Wells was a guardsman at Buckingham Palace with the Grenadier Guards second battalion and also served four years with the British forces in Germany and China.
The former voluntary worker is well entitled to enjoy his re- tirement.
A keen writer, he has struggled of late with his hands and until recently his eyes.
In the second half of last year he forked out close to $4000 for eye surgery and while he will get some of this back, Mr Wells will be left about $2500 out of pocket.
That's a lot for a man who picks up less than $475 a fort- night and has to pay almost a third of this on rent. "Yes, most of my meals have been tinned food,'' Mr Wells said from his Murray Street home this week.
He said it took six months of hard saving to pay the up-front costs for the eye operation.
A mix-up led Mr Wells and his family to believe he would not be able to get the treatment through the public system, even though he said he waited a long time for help.
He understood the hospital's eye surgery department had closed down.
But a hospital spokesman yesterday said this was not the case.
The spokesman said the department had continued to run and currently had about 170 people on its elective surgery waiting list for cataract operations.
So far this month, the hospital has completed 27 operations.