By Kirra Grimes

ONE year on from the farm accident that almost claimed his life, Mirboo’s Rodney Donat has gone to extraordinary lengths to thank his wife for her support throughout his recovery.
Rodney broke his neck last October falling down a steep gully while working on the Donats’ Mirboo beef farm.
Though his wife, Coral, was at the family’s second farm at Wonthaggi at the time, Rodney credits her with saving his life.
After making his way back to the house, he immediately phoned Coral to tell her what had happened.
He then began to lose consciousness, and it was only Coral’s phone call to the Donats’ neighbour that ensured an ambulance got to Rodney before it was too late.
As Rodney endured weeks and months of hospital stays and follow up doctor’s appointments, Coral has also stepped up to take care of the Donats’ two farms.
It was Coral’s 70th birthday last Wednesday, and Rodney took it as the perfect opportunity to show his thanks by planning something extra special.
He took Coral on a helicopter ride from Phillip Island to a mystery destination, which turned out to be their Mirboo farm, where family and friends who’d travelled hours to be there were waiting to greet them.
And from the moment Coral found Rodney’s note in the morning advising her they were going on a date and he’d be “picking her up from the mansion just like on The Bachelor,” Rodney’s plan went off without a hitch, with Coral saying she’d had no idea what was happening.
“I didn’t know a thing!” said Coral as she stepped out of the helicopter and onto her front lawn.
“I knew we were going to Phillip Island, so I was telling everybody we were going whale watching!
“It was a tremendous surprise. [A helicopter ride] is a bucket list thing we’ve both been wanting to do, and it was worth waiting 70 years for! It was a bit windy up there but it was beautiful.”
Coral said Rodney had done very well to pull off his ambitious plan and she hoped it was a sign of things to come for the couple.
“We’ve had a terrible year with Rodney breaking his neck and all the injuries he had. So I hope this changes things and we’ll have a bit more good luck from now on. And I’ve put in and helped him so it’s nice to have a reward,” she said.
Rodney said it was great to see how happy his gift had made Coral, and was looking forward to showing his family the video footage he’d shot of her reaction.
“It’s just amazing to have a helicopter land on your own farm, in front of the house Coral and I built with our own hands. We just love what we do and Coral is just an absolutely fantastic farmer and really loves the animals. She’s done a fantastic job looking after close on 600 acres. And if it wasn’t for her, and her quick thinking on that day, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”