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Love is in the air this Valentine's

Mark and Janet Bosanquet-Bryant met and fell in love at high school and this year will happily celebrate 32 years of marriage. It was only a year into their marriage however, that their lives were turned upside down when Mark severed his spinal cord in an accident that left him paralysed from the neck down.

In this special Valentine's Day blog, Mark opens up about that day and how his marriage saved him.

Mark and Janet Bosanquet-Bryant

I joined the RAF as part of the military police in June 1984. Janet and I met in school, age 18 and I knew very early on she was the one! My job meant I was posted overseas and in 1985 I was posted to RAF Laarbruch in Germany.

I was off duty that summer and Janet and I decided to take a trip. Little did I know that the 9 August 1986 would be the day that my life changed forever.

We were at an outdoor leisure park and I jumped into the outdoor reservoir, not realising how shallow the water was. I don't remember the moments after that, but I was told that I was floating face down in the water and Janet ran down to drag me out.

My condition was critical in the months following the accident and so I was moved to the intensive care unit at Stanmore Hospital in London. I remained on a life support machine for six months.

Physiotherapy

From then on it was 14 months of gruelling physiotherapy, rehabilitation and learning the most basic of functions – like how to breathe.

It was during this time, that Janet was very strong, even learning to drive in London while I was in intensive care even though she realised the severity of what had happened and what our futures now looked like.

I was told by doctors I wouldn't live more than 30 years after the accident – that time was up in August 2016.

Although life for me now is very different compared to the life I had in the Royal Air Force, I am happy and feel very fulfilled. My design business and family shop keep me busy on a day-to-day basis and Janet and I are very fortunate to have support from the RAF Benevolent Fund.

When I was in hospital they visited her and helped relieve some of those initial financial stresses she was facing at the time. Janet always tells me that they were a huge support to her during those scary dark times.

Not only were they able to support us financially with finding us a house that would suit my needs as a wheelchair user, they were also a huge emotional support to Janet when I couldn't be there for her.

Family support

My family have been a great support to me yet my wife has to take much of the credit for what I have achieved.

Through all I have faced, Janet has been there, helping, caring and just being a wonderful wife. Janet is a special lady every day and Valentine's Day is another opportunity for me to remind her how much she is loved.

Our new van, that has been adapted to suit my needs, is being delivered on Valentine's Day this year, which means we can go out for a nice drive and have fish and chips along the seafront followed by a bottle of bubbly when we return!

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