A British groom-to-be left paralysed after a freak accident on his stag-do in Spain yesterday vowed: “I will make my wedding.”
Firefighter James Thorpe, 28, broke his neck and seven vertebrae after tripping in the sea in Majorca last week ahead of his wedding to fiancee Michaela Watson.
He was left paralysed from the chest down and will have to wait for further tests to establish whether it is permanent.
But, speaking from his hospital bed, James said: “It’s devastating that what was meant to be such a happy time has turned into our worst nightmare.
“I never imagined anything like this could happen but I’m determined not to let it get in the way of our plans so I can marry Michaela as soon as possible.
“This experience has made out love stronger and I can’t wait for us both to enjoy the day we have been planning together.
“Despite everything, I’m trying to think positively and do everything I can to walk again. If there’s a chance I can, I will. ”
The couple had feared that James would be stranded in Spain and miss his wedding in the UK on June 24 because of concerns over their travel insurance.
But yesterday they got confirmation that insurers would pay from James to be flown back to the UK later this week by air ambulance.
“The insurance policy clearly states that you don’t have to not drink for it to be valid, you just have to be sensible.
“He remembers everything and gave clear instructions on how he should be treated which he’s learned from being in the fire service for seven years.
“There’s an assumption that just because it’s Magaluf, people are there getting ridiculously drunk and doing stupid things.
” James isn’t like that, he’s sensible. He knew exactly what to do and none of this is his fault.”
James says he tripped and fell while paddling in the sea at knee-height, banging his head on the seabed just hours after landing on the Spanish island.
He says he felt his neck break and was able to give clear first-aid instructions to other members of his stag party and a passing nurse.
But despite their initial fears, the couple, from Boston, Lincs., were thrilled to hear James will be booked on an ambulance flight early this week in the hope he will still be able to attend their wedding.
They pay £10 a month for holiday insurance through Nationwide Bank, which is underwritten by Direct Line.
Michaela, an assistant technical manager, said: “The insurance company have come through for us and have been wonderful sorting it out.
“They should be getting on him the next available flight which will hopefully be on Monday or Tuesday. It will be such a relief to get him back home.
“We urgently need to get him to Sheffield Hospital where they have a dedicated team for this type of injury.
“It’s not all about money, we will find a way as a family, it’s more about them making him out to be something he’s not.”
James flew out to Majorca last week and just two hours after landing he was paddling in the sea with friends he had grown up with.
But he was suddenly swept over by the knee-height water, forcing him to fall and bang his head on the seabed.
“He knew instantly what he’d done,” she said.
“He kept really calm and luckily one of his friends spotted him going under the water or he would have drowned.
“He was directing his friends to tell them what to do and they made a headrest out of sand so he could keep his neck still.
“He was even liaising with a nurse who happened to be there to make sure he didn’t do anything to make his injuries worse.”
He has since undergone surgery in which medics took bone from hip to replace badly damaged bone in his neck.
His family are still desperately try and raise up to £20,000 to help pay for his recovery and specialist rehabilitation.
Michaela said: “The doctors have been fantastic over here but they can only help to fix his broken neck and treat his pain.
“We have been told he may never walk again, but he has come feeling in his legs and toes, which we are holding on to for now.”
“James is so excited about getting married that he’s using it as his drive to get better.
“We’ve spent two years planning our big day and it’s heartbreaking to think it might not go ahead but he keeps promising me that it is.
“His goal is to make it down the aisle and I can’t take that away from him.”
James added:”I would like to say a really big thank you to all of my friends and family who have supported me in different ways.
“The friends who were with me at the time did everything they could, especially Ross who pulled me from the sea and stopped me from drowning.
“I’m want to show everyone how determined I am to recover as best I can.”
Friend and fellow firefighter Simon Burch has set up a Just Giving page to raise money to aid his recovery
To support James, visit: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/James-thorpe?utm_id=107&utm_term=mXp8WkEZ8