Scott and Melissa Darmanin run VIP Access in Queensland. Melissa spoke to Kymberly Martin about how a teenage romance turned into a deep attachment and how a near-fatal accident changed their lives.
Melissa met Scott at Surfers Paradise in 1999. She was 16 and still at school, while Scott had started his trade as a carpenter. Scott was riding his skateboard around with his mate and drove a nice Commodore ute that she thought was “pretty cool.”
“Two of our close friends started dating and we all started to hang out together and got to know each other as friends but before long we realised how much we liked each other and spent every weekend together. Scott would visit me on the weekends as I worked in the local surf shop and occasionally pick me up from school if he finished work early. We used to write letters to each other, then fax them to read faster! We moved in together after I finished school, bought our first dog Roxy, and eight acres at Coomera on a sloping block with beautiful ocean views. We worked every weekend preparing to build.”
Scott had his accident just before Christmas Day in 2004. It was a Sunday and Melissa had asked him to go shopping but he decided to go for a ride with mates and all went well until another group of riders came towards them. Scott was first in his group, swerved to miss the first rider but caught a direct hit from the second rider whose bike snapped in two, leaving Scott’s bike without a scratch. Melissa got a call from one of his mates who said that Scott had an accident and had hurt his leg. “I rushed to the hospital unprepared for what I was to see. He was in emergency going in and out of consciousness and I was told his conditioning was life-threatening. Shortly after Scott’s parents arrived a doctor delivered the news that Scott would not walk again.
“I was in shock and that’s when the rollercoaster of the spinal ward and paraplegia started. Scott’s leg was broken in five places, his big toe had been ripped off, he had a massive wound on his arm, a punctured lung and his heart had moved from the impact. He lay flat on a bed for two months. We spent Christmas at the hospital with all the family visiting and even Roxy got to visit. The things that happened on the spinal ward are probably best kept there,” she said. After several months in hospital, it was time to think about going home. “This is when we started looking at completing home modifications at Scott’s parent’s house so we could live there. A makeshift room was set up downstairs and the bathroom modified but there were limited options available for home modifications. However, with Scott’s knowledge of the building industry and Scott’s mother Cheryl’s ideas, they came up with a very accessible and beautiful bathroom.
After his recovery Scott started working with Langs Building Supplies as an estimator but a ramp was required for access into their office, and these were not just difficult to source but expensive. Between the home mods and the ramp Scott started thinking he could do better which is the idea of how VIP Access came to be.
He studied for his builders licence each night and continued to work at Langs four days a week and after getting his license began doing renovations before work, at lunchtime and after work. This continued until VIP Access was busy enough for him to leave Langs and the business officially started trading in 2009. Melissa was working at an accounting firm while Scott was busy running jobs and bookings leaving Melissa to handle the bookkeeping at night and weekends.
“In October 2008, they married. Earlier Melissa had surprised Scott with a trip to Thailand where he proposed. They bought their first home, but the block of land was sold as it was too steep for Scott. Their house was renovated to be wheelchair accessible and after their first child, Tasmyn was born Melissa decided to stay home and help Scott with the business. The couple have two girls, Tasmyn 10 and Emersyn 7 and travel often in an accessible caravan and a fishing boat. The girls and Scott have quad bikes and ride around together.
“Emersyn is our little miracle. She had a stroke when she was born and we were told when she was four days old that she may never walk as she had suffered brain damage, but to everyone amazement she is now fully recovered.” The family recently moved to a larger property and Scott gets around in an off-road wheelchair. Tasmyn recently found her father’s old skateboard, the one he was riding when the couple met, which has been restored and she is now learning to ride with Scott’s guidance.
According to Melissa, Scott is the builder and ideas man, visiting sites with clients and the occupational therapist, designing plans, preparing quotes, going on-site throughout the job and at completion. “I work in the office with the help of our office administrator, Alana, scheduling the trades, ordering materials, liaising with clients and the OT’s. I prepare quotes for minor modification and take care of the bookwork. We work well together, and Scott helps me with the building requirements, so I am always learning new things. Occasionally I go with him to carry out the final inspection, meet the client and see the finished work rather than do it via email/ phone and following progress via job photos.”
progress via job photos.” Most of the time things run smoothly, occasionally it gets difficult being in the same office together each day as both work long hours and it is hard juggling family life and work. “With kids comes homework, after school activities and the general house chores but somehow we work it out. “Scott tries not to let too much get in his way and finds different ways of doing things he wants to do whether it’s mowing the lawn or operating earth moving equipment. He makes it happen.
“Sometimes people are amazed at what we do but they appreciate the personal service we offer, and the insight Scott has with lived experience. We just do what we do each day and make the most of what we have.”