‘Life can change in an instant’ - Norfolk woman tells amazing story of her husband’s recovery from the brink of death

Susan and David Yaxley at Magpas headquarters in Huntingdon.

Susan and David Yaxley at Magpas headquarters in Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

When a police officer arrived on Susan Yaxley's doorstep with chilling news about her husband a rush of emotions hit her like a thunderbolt.

David Yaxley's tractor after the crash,

David Yaxley's tractor after the crash, - Credit: Archant

In a calm and clear voice the female officer said the words: 'Your husband has been seriously hurt in an accident - you should prepare for the worst.'

David Yaxley, 55, at the time, had been catapulted from his tractor into a ditch on the side of the A47 near Swaffham after a lorry hit him from behind.

Mrs Yaxley, who has been married to David for 42 years, remembers that day, on August 9, 2010 like it was yesterday.

Today she speaks publicly about her experiences for the first time to give her thanks and support to Magpas, the emergency medical charity which helped to save his life.

Mrs Yaxley, her husband, daughter Rebekah Howlett, 34 and 10-week-old grandson James Howlett, visited the Magpas headquarters in Huntingdon yesterday to speak with other families who have been helped by Magpas, to learn more about the charity and to meet some of the amazing people who work and for it.

She said: 'If it wasn't for them David wouldn't be here today. They do an amazing job.'

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She added: 'When the police officer told me to prepare for the worst, I just didn't know what to do.

'I felt numb and helpless. I wanted to go straight to the roadside to see him but the officer wouldn't let me. I had to just stay home and wait.

'David's mother (Honor Yaxley) was staying with us at the time so I went and told her the news and she was obviously extremely upset.

'The family came together to help each other get through it.'

A Magpas air ambulance took Mr Yaxley to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where he was treated in an intensive care unit.

Mrs Yaxley and her daughters Rebekah Howlett and Deborah Walsh, 41, travelled there that night to see him.

They saw him at 1.30am, nine hours after the accident.

Mrs Yaxley said: 'I sat at his bedside and held his hand. There were tubes and wires in all directions.

'The doctors told us they should know more about his chances after the first 48 hours. We just had to wait.'

After those two days Mr Yaxley was still fighting for his life.

Mrs Yaxley said: 'It was good news but nothing was certain at that point.'

Mr Yaxley, who lives with his wife in Holme Hale, near Swaffham, was unconscious for 11 days.

Mrs Yaxley said: 'When he came around, it took some time for him to realise where he was and what had happened.

'When he saw me he knew I was his wife but couldn't remember my name.'

Mr Yaxley's recovery has gradually continued to progress in the six years since then.

He now continues to manage his arable farm in Holme Hale but does not undertake any physical work.

Mrs Yaxley said: 'He's made a good recovery.

'He still struggles with balance sometimes and suffers from short term memory loss but is in a good place.

'We had one granddaughter when he went into hospital and have had five more since then.

'He loves spending time with them and the rest of the family.

'Things could have turned out so differently.'

With the Christmas season upon us, and many thinking about family time, the Yaxleys' story is more poignant than ever.

Mrs Yaxley said: 'You can't take anything for granted.

'You need to enjoy and appreciate life, your family and the people around you.

'Nobody thinks this will happen to them, but your life can change in an instant.'

Do you have a poignant story to share? E mail adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk

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