Neil Mutch, from Berwick, suffered devastating injuries in a car crash while returning from a cycling challenge in The Cheviots, Northumberland.
He was just 400m from his turn off on the A1 near Berwick when his car was ‘crushed’ in a horrific crash in 2015.
“The assumption is that I blacked out. The first collision was the front of my car with the rear end of a van which then caused me to spin sideways and the car behind the van then collided with my passenger side. My car was crushed,” said the 57-year-old.
“I had called my wife Sharon to say I was heading home and that I would be around 30 minutes and she said she would put the curry on – that was the last thing I remember.
“When I woke up in hospital, Sharon was over me and all I could hear her saying was ‘please promise me you will fight’.”
The incident was attended by the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) who worked with North East Ambulance Service crews on scene before flying Mr Mutch to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Mr Mutch said: “I had broken the C1 and C2 vertebrae in my neck as well as internal decapitation which is also known as the ‘hangman’s fracture’ and is fatal in 80% of people.
“I also had eight broken ribs, fractured sternum, fractured cheek and collar bone, a punctured lung and a bleed on the brain.”
After spending two weeks in the RVI intensive care unit, Mr Mutch was transferred to James Cook University Hospital’s spinal unit.
Mr Mutch said: “Permanent paralysis was the prognosis. But I said ‘I will beat this, and I will recover’.
“I was worried about the things I might not be able to do in normal life. Simple things, like making a cup of coffee, going to the toilet and walking my dogs – I missed them so much. I just missed home so much.”
The turning point came when Mr Mutch was able to move his finger for the first time.
He said: “When my finger moved, I thought I will actually get better and will be able to walk again.”
Mr Mutch was in hospital from July until late September and when he was finally discharged, hospital staff came off their lunch breaks to see him leave.
He said: “I took seven steps out of the hospital doors in my frame after being told I would never walk again. It was incredible. My outlook on life since has been to keep fighting and never give up.”
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