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King's Lynn firefighter making progress after freak accident on stag-do

PUBLISHED: 09:30 28 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:20 28 October 2016

Before the accident. James Thorpe and Michaela Watson. Pictures submitted by the family.

Before the accident. James Thorpe and Michaela Watson. Pictures submitted by the family.

Archant

A firefighter who was left paralysed on his stag-do after a freak accident is making steady progress.

James Thorpe, who worked in King’s Lynn, is undergoing rehabilitation and has regained some movement in his toes and feeling in his hands.

His sister-in-law Holly Watson said: “He’s going to a spinal injuries rehab unit in Penrith in the Lake District.

“He can wiggle his toes a little and he’s getting his grip back in his hands.

“He’s still paralysed from the waist down, but he is very positive.

“He has been building a lot of Lego with my sons, which is helping him with his hands.

“Doctors previously told him that he would never walk again, but his positivity is coming through.”

Mr Thorpe, 28, and his fiancée Michaela Watson, both from Boston, cancelled their original wedding, planned for the end of June, after the accident, which came just a few weeks before.

But they have since rearranged it for July 14 next year, at the same venue, Belvoir castle in Leicestershire.

To help his recovery, Mr Thorpe is also considering going to America to take part in a programme called Project Walk, at a paralysis recovery centre.

As reported, Mr Thorpe was just three hours into his stag-do in Mallorca when, after a quick drink in a local bar, the group decided to go for a dip in the sea.

He said: “As I was walking into the water I tripped on something. I hit my head so it’s a blur, but I was underwater and I couldn’t stand up – I couldn’t get my head out.

“I was getting pins and needles and knew instantly I had damaged my neck. I started panicking because I just couldn’t move.”

Realising he still had movement in his arms, he pulled himself towards a friend and up above the water.

Thanks to his firefighter training, he understood that slow and careful movement was vital – an awareness which he believes may have saved his life.

The next few days were a “horrible blur”, and he was confined to a hospital bed with his neck brace on.

But after initial surgery – and thanks to the determination of his loved ones – he was flown back home two weeks later to the spinal injuries unit in Sheffield. His story was met with an outpouring of support, which he described as “overwhelming” and said had kept his spirits high.

Mrs Watson has arranged a charity masquerade ball at Haven High Academy in Boston at 7pm tomorrow, to fundraise to help Mr Thorpe’s rehabilitation. To book tickets, call 07753 290295 or 07817 358303.

Are you making progress after a horrific accident? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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