Joseph Ramsey has been known as 'Mr Determined' from a very young age.
Steadfast in his approach to most activities and challenges in life, and always keen to try new things, it started out as a fun nickname, but during the past four months, it is a title that has never been more significant or relevant.
The eight-year-old from Clifton – a rural town in the Toowoomba region – was out helping his father, Justin Ramsey, with harvest on Wednesday, June 29, when he tragically lost his right hand in an accident.
He was flown to Brisbane’s Queensland Children’s Hospital via CareFlight and spent one week there with his mother, Mellisa Nolan, by his side. He stayed in Brisbane for another week before returning home.
One of the first places Joseph went when he returned home was to his footy club, Wattles Warriors Juniors. And as he stood on the sideline watching his under 8 teammates play, Mr Determined shone through.
“He’s determined to get back playing next season,” Nolan said of her son.
“We went to one of the games when he was not long home, not even a fortnight, and he was still quite heavily bandaged up. We went along and he was like, ‘I want to play, I want to play'.
“Then he saw two of the older boys being water boys for the team and was like, ‘next week I can go and be the water boy'.
“He hasn’t returned yet but he’s pretty determined to get back and have a go.”
There is no doubt what Joseph and his parents have been through this year has been a challenge.
Nolan said they had “weaned” their son back into school at St Francis de Sales and he was sometimes uncomfortable around large groups and in letting his arm be on display.
Having been dominant with his right hand, Joseph is now learning how to write again and is always looking at new ways to do things that were once second nature to him.
“It’s going to be an ongoing process,” Nolan said of Joseph’s recovery.
“It’s healed and he’s running around, jumping on the trampoline, playing with the kids at school… he’s pretty much back to his normal.
“He can do most things but he does find difficulty in playing his video games, for example. We are looking at prosthesis to help with different activities and we’re trying to implement different things and teach him new ways to deal with life with one hand.
“His biggest challenge at the moment is learning to write again. Shortly after it happened, the school literally went and bought him his own laptop straight away.
“They knew that writing would be a frustration for him so they did that to make his life easier.”
Daly Cherry-Evans' message to Joseph Ramsey
Between school, footy and the general Clifton community, the family have felt “overwhelming” support.
The school and Joseph’s coach were in contact with the family as soon as they heard the news.
His footy team also sent a gift to him while he was in hospital. When he missed the team photo, they arranged to have an insert photo of him placed in the top corner.
When the Queensland Maroons visited Warwick for their 2022 fan day, the club organised a signed jersey for him and videos from a number of players, including Queensland skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
Queensland great Shane Webcke also made a video of support for Joseph, reminding him that he’s a “strong country kid”. It’s a video Joseph has watched on repeat.
“It’s all these little things that helped,” Nolan said.
“We’re very lucky to have a lovely community in Clifton… you just can’t believe it... You cannot believe how supportive everyone is.
“That many people contact you… it’s really overwhelming. It’s so beautiful. You can’t thank them enough. We are so grateful that Wattles have been, and continue to be, so supportive to Joseph and us.
“He also loves his little school and he is so determined to get back to football.”
And while that support from Wattles, Joseph’s school and the Clifton community has been invaluable, Nolan knows they wouldn’t have made it through the past few months if it wasn’t for Joseph himself.
His parents always knew he was determined. But this year they have seen a new side to their son. One of resilience and strength.
“He has been an absolutely amazing, fierce person,” Nolan said.
“He’s been this child who has taken it in his stride. He’ll get frustrated with things but we just try to sit down and work out how to do things in a different way.
“The strength and courage he has shown, you could not even imagine. It just astounds me.
“He has given us strength. Because of the way he’s been, you can’t break down and be a blubbering mess.
“If he was not strong and courageous during this whole thing, I don’t know if I would be either. I honestly don’t know how it would have been but he’s getting on with things so you just have to get on with things.
“He leads the way and we support with that.”
And as for whether or not that return to the footy field is a possibility in 2023?
“I believe so,” Nolan said.
“Any challenge, he will have a go. He’s very focused on doing things and having a go. If he can’t get it the first time, he’ll keep trying until he gets it.
“As far as I’m aware, he’s welcome back with open arms. It will depend on if he’s comfortable next year when it’s kick-off time.
“We’ll wait until it gets closer but little 'Mr Determined' is certainly telling us he’s playing next year.”