Ray Colbert is driving his electric wheelchair from Toowoomba to Brisbane for asbestos awareness.
Ray Colbert is driving his electric wheelchair from Toowoomba to Brisbane for asbestos awareness. David Nielsen

Driving home a crucial message

RAY Colbert is travelling the long, hard road to asbestos disease awareness - literally.

Ray, who suffers from asbestosis, arrives in Ipswich today, marking the halfway point of his five-day wheelchair odyssey from Toowoomba to Brisbane.

Despite being confined to his electric wheelchair and needing 24-hour oxygen, the 65-year-old grandfather is determined to let people know about the deadly disease.

The former navy officer left Toowoomba on Monday morning, stopping at various locations in Gatton and Laidley to speak to residents about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

"We're getting the message out at every stop and people are really listening," Ray said.

"I think it's initially quite a surprise to people to find out how dangerous asbestos is."

The journey so far has been trouble free, with no need to call on his support team, which includes a paramedic and wheelchair mechanic.

Ray said he hoped to make a dent in his $500,000 fundraising target during the trip.

"We're making better progress than we thought and the people we've met have been exceptionally supportive," he said. "People are donating what they can.

"I've found I really have to maintain my concentration along the way or I find myself wobbling along the road."

Ray will travel through Ipswich today before arriving at Bunnings Booval at 3.30pm, where he will be welcomed by Ipswich Deputy Mayor Victor Attwood.

During the ride Ray has focused on stopping at hardware stores to highlight the dangers facing amateur home renovators and tradespeople.

Australia and the UK have the highest rates of asbestos-related deaths in the world.

More than 25,000 Australians are expected to die from mesothelioma over the next 40 years.



  • Meet Ray at 3.30pm today at Bunnings Booval.
  • Join Ray for dinner tonight at Swifts Sports Club, 5.30-8pm. All bistro proceeds will be donated to Ray's Ride.
  • Farewell Ray from Ipswich tomorrow at a barbecue breakfast at Swifts, 8-9am.