An accident that left an air ambulance fundraiser fighting for his life and paralysed from the chest down has also cost him thousands of pounds.
Peter Wells (75) and his wife, Lesley (60), had to take out a second mortgage – and accept gifts of cash and loans from their family – to pay off the estimated £50,000-plus for home adaptations and a suitable car.
It’s a case of making people aware, really. People need to take out accident insurance for themselves, not rely on other people’s insurance.Peter Wells
Peter was one of the air ambulance’s top lottery fundraisers until he visited a home in Pode Hole and a heavy branch of a fir tree broke off, hit him and pinned him to the ground in November, 2012.
His back was broken in three places and his life was changed for ever.
Neighbours heard Peter’s cries for help, firefighters freed him and he was flown by air ambulance to Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC), Nottingham.
Peter said: “I was raising funds for the air ambulance and I ended up being in it.”
He spent seven months in three hospitals, nearly a year at a care home and then lived in the dining room at the couple’s Market Deeping home until their garage was adapted to create a bedroom with en suite wetroom.
The householder’s insurance company said his life-changing injuries resulted from an “Act of God” and not from “a foreseeable occurrence”.
That left them with no legal comeback and mounting expenses to cope with Peter’s paralysis.Peter said: “Basically, no house insurance policy would cover for it because it comes under the category of ‘Act of God’.”
The couple are telling their story because they don’t want anyone else to go through a similar nightmare.
Peter said: “It’s a case of making people aware, really. People need to take out accident insurance for themselves, not rely on other people’s insurance.”
Teacher Lesley says their son Josh, now 24, wanted a paper round when he was 11 or 12 to earn a little bit of pocket money.
She said: “Supposing something like this happened to a paper boy, would he be insured? No.”
The couple say on the day he was injured, Peter was pinned to the ground for a couple of hours and firefighters removed more branches from the tree before freeing him.
Lesley had only just come out of hospital herself and a neighbour took her to QMC to be by Peter’s side.
“They didn’t think he would make it,” said Lesley. “His kidneys were collapsing under the strain and his vertebrae had exploded.”
Within days, Peter was transferred to hospital in Peterborough, where his life was in danger for a second time.
Lesley says a medical tube became dislodged in the transfer and Peter developed pneumonia.
Peter said: “I was in intensive care for about a month. Then they moved me to a ward while I waited for a (hospital) place to come up in Sheffield.”
The once active man, who ran his own furnishings business, has carers go in four times a day to attend to his needs.
He says if the carers put him on his side to go to sleep at 10.30pm, he is stuck in the same position until they return at 7.30am the next day because he cannot move.
Peter said: “The whole of my spinal cord is encased in a metal frame.
“As I am talking to you now, I have got a ring of burning pain all around my body. Unfortunately I just have to live with it.”