Harry takes step - in right direction

A man who had both his legs amputated took his first steps outside yesterday - and straight into his local pub.


A man who had both his legs amputated took his first steps outside yesterday - and straight into his local pub.

It was a sweet moment for Harry James, who had made a bet with the landlord that he would walk in there before Christmas. Yesterday he did it, three weeks and two days after getting his prosthetic legs fitted and four months after losing his second leg.

The 61-year-old, from Ditchingham, near Bungay, walked in to the Artichoke at Broome to a round of applause from pub regulars and staff.

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He said: “I am just happy that I am able to do it and that I have been given the chance to do it.

“I just wanted to walk again as soon as I possibly could. It is confidence really, because you cannot feel your legs under you so you don't know whether they are there or not.”

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Mr James, who ran his own electricals business for more than 30 years, was diagnosed with diabetes four years ago. It led to poor circulation and eventually to gangrene in one leg, which had to be amputated. He developed kidney failure and spent five days in intensive care, coming close to death. Then problems with his remaining leg led to it being amputated in August.

Doctors were unsure whether it would be safe for him to walk again, because the diabetes has also led to blindness in one eye and poor vision in the other. But he convinced them to give him prosthetic legs and has proved himself right.

Helped by physiotherapists, he learned to walk again, but until yesterday had not taken any steps outside his home. He relies on a walking frame, but hopes in time to progress to only needing a stick. The former parish councillor said he wanted to thank all those in the NHS who had cared for him, especially the staff of Pine Cottage at Colman Hospital.

Landlord John Craft and his partner Nicki Howard had promised Mr James free drinks if he won his bet that he would walk in to the pub before Christmas. It was not too expensive a bet to lose, as he only drinks two halves of mild, but no-one would have begrudged him a drop.

Mrs Howard said: “He is an inspiration really. He has been coming in here ever since we took over two years ago and he is one of our regulars. When we heard what had happened to him we were concerned for him, but he has really surprised us. He was determined to walk again.

“I cannot believe it - he has just walked in the pub. It is such a short time since his operation. You have got to hand it to him.”

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