Cromer man beats brain injury and gets set to marry childhood sweetheart
Two-and-a-half years ago Ashley Clarke was lying in a hospital bed, unable to speak after a life-saving brain operation.
But on Saturday he will proudly say 'I do' after walking up the aisle to wed his childhood sweetheart Jade Barber in a poignant ceremony at Cromer Parish Church.
The romantic event is one that 24-year-old Mr Clarke, who works at Carpet Right on Holt Road in Cromer, wondered whether he would live to see as he battled the brain bleed.
And he is determined to make the most of it, having made a full recovery despite at one stage being given a 40pc chance of surviving.
He said: 'Jade helped me get through it, and Saturday's going to be a fantastic day. It is going to make my life even better than it already is.'
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The couple, who live in Suffield Park, met in 2003 when Mr Clarke moved to Cromer from Wellingborough.
They have two children - two-year-old Olly and little Lillee, who is five months old. Mr Clarke said Olly and Lillee had both had special outfits made for them for the wedding.
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The couple's lives were turned upside down in January 2009 when, after a series of excruciating headaches, Mr Clarke collapsed and was rushed to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, suffering from a brain haemorrhage.
He said he was 'gone' for four days, during which he underwent a six-hour, life-saving brain operation.
He added: 'I lost the ability to speak for a while, but I could still remember a lot of what happened.
'I just couldn't get the words out. I ended up having three therapists to help me, and I saw them quite often.
'I was off work for 10 months, but now I have completely recovered. I am working full-time and everything's cushty now.'
Mr Clarke said he used to be able to lift 'very heavy loads', but now had to be careful with lifting.
And he added: 'My girlfriend - almost my wife - has been remarkable. And it's the people around here as well. People have supported me so well. They knew what I went through and helped me out.'
mr Clarke has a five-inch scar on his head from the operation. But, far from growing his hair to cover it up for the big day, he is going to shave it all off.
He said: 'I'm not bothered by it. If people take the mickey, I'll just take it.'