Sandy not about to fade away thanks to Roger's art
A NOOSA-based former All Black who courageously refused to play for his country in rugby against South Africa on principle, has taken his own life rather than submit to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.
And according to Sandy McNicol's Tewantin neighbour and friend Roger Hunt, this was "another act of incredible bravery” he should never have been forced to make on his own.
Mr Hunt has captured the strength and integrity of the once-imposing front rower in a portrait, which has taken out the People's Choice award in Wallace House art exhibition. The work 'My Friend Sandy' was inspired by their shared belief in assisted euthanasia.
The 73-year-old Kiwi played five matches for the All Blacks in 1973 and possibly could have played at that level much longer, had he not refused to take his place in the side because of his strong views against apartheid.
Mr McNicol's suicide and his Alzheimer's diagnosis made headlines in New Zealand praising the retired teacher's strong beliefs which saw him turn his back on his country's highest sporting honour.
Mr Hunt said it was a stand that typified his friend who deserved a better fate.
"How sad it is that when it comes to terminal illness we treat animals with more kindness than humans,” Mr Hunt said.
"I tried to paint him as he was, but he'd been gradually deteriorating. It was such a shame that he had to take his own life without any outside help, because we as a society don't cater for circumstances like his.”
Mr Hunt said he and Mr McNicol's wife Sarah want Australian politicians to alter the laws "to allow people like Sandy, who knew exactly what he was doing, to make a humane exit in a dignified way”.
Mr Hunt said his friend was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about two and half years ago, but the symptoms first appeared five years ago.
He said if anyone doubted this "man of incredible inner strength” knew what he was doing when he overdosed, a telling message on McNicol's body tells otherwise.
"It's common knowledge he had a tattoo on his bum that said 'Nursing home never',” Mr Hunt said.
"They (the McNicols) lived very near to us. We have a wonderful neighbourhood and many of us chipped in to help. I tried to help by taking Sandy on outings including bike rides.
"Riding his bike would work wonders for him and he would often open up for me to see the wonderful man he once was.”
Mr Hunt said his mate always greeted him with a warm smile.
"I have tried to capture that in his portrait. I painted him mostly with a pallet knife to try and capture his rough , no airs, down to earth personality.”
Mr Hunt said the portrait is his way of remembering him and the fact that "he was never going to let his illness win”.