on the mend

John Martin (left) and Michael Batridge at the GER club in March.
John Martin (left) and Michael Batridge at the GER club in March.
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Two men who lost limbs and were left fighting for life following an horrific accident involving a Fenland dustcart and a parked lorry in January are finally on the mend after weeks of treatment.

And on Friday John King, who lost both legs as a result of the early morning smash on January 25, enjoyed his first outing from his hospital bed when he joined family and friends at the finals and presentation evening for the North Witchford Darts League, where he was presented with a runners-up trophy along with his Little London pub teammates.

John’s 22-year-old workmate Michael Bagridge, who lost his left leg in the accident, was also at the GER Club for a night of celebrations.

John from March, was accompanied by his wife Sarah and four of their six children, but like Cinderella the 49-year-old had to be back at Peterborough City Hospital, where he is continuing with his physiotherapy, by midnight.

Sarah kept a bedside vigil at Addenbrookes’ Hospital, Cambridge for two-and-a-half weeks, while her husband battled for his life suffering kidney failure, liver problems and internal bleeding from stomach ulcers caused by the accident.

Doctors warned Sarah her husband had only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving and that he faced losing one or both his legs because the circulation had been cut off for so long while emergency services worked to cut him out of the wrecked dustcart.

Initially it looked as if a major operations to repair the veins and arteries and mend bones in his legs had worked, but infection set in and in February John was told he would have to lose both limbs to stop the infection spreading.

“It was either that or lose my life,” said John, who is now known as ‘Teddy Legs’ by his children: Jennifer (13), Kristina (12), Laura (10) April (9), David (6) and Stephenie (3).

But despite losing his limbs John is philosophical and does not hold any bad feelings towards his co-worker Alan Smith, who was driving the day of the accident, and has been suffering mentally since the crash, the cause of which is still unclear.

John’s goal now is to get fit enough to use prosthetic legs so he can walk his daughters down the aisle when they marry.

“I have plenty of time. The eldest is only 13,” said John, who will have to remain in hospital until a suitable place in a care home can be found. He will have to stay in a care home because the family house is not suitable for his wheelchair.

“Either the house will have to be adapted, by having an extension built, or we will have to be rehoused, but it is difficult to find somewhere suitable because we are such a large family,” said John.

Michael, who is known to his workmates as Baggie, lives with his parents John and Lesley and brother Shane Busby in March, he is hoping to get fit enough to return to work.

“I don’t remember much about the day of the accident, apart from it was pay-day,” said Michael, who is also undergoing physiotherapy three times a week ready to have a prosthetic leg fitted.

He was seated between John and Alan in the fibre-glass cab and suffered a blow to the head as a result of the impact as well as being trapped by his legs.

John said: “I was more worried about Baggie than myself. I just kept yelling at him to keep him conscious, he kept falling unconscious and I really thought we were going to lose him.”

His injuries were initially not thought to be as serious as John’s but after being taken to Peterborough City Hospital he was transferred to Addenbrookes’.

The two men’s families did not know each other before he day of the crash, but Sarah and Lesley, who was also at the GER on Friday, met at the hospital and have become firm friends supporting each other through their loved-ones recovery.

John and Michael were reunited on a ward at Addenbrookes after John came out of a drug-induced coma and were together at the Peterborough hospital until Michael was discharged.

“It was really hard leaving John behind, but I know he is doing well now and he is getting fit,” said Michael, who had only had a full-time job on the bin rounds for a short time before the accident happened.

John’s family have been busy organising fundraising events in aid of the air ambulance and a karaoke held at the GER raised £500, and a 40th birthday party for nephew Martin King held at the GER on February 28 raised a further £1,000.

Martin’s partner Kelly Southwell and a group of friends are staging a sponsored walk through March on May 11. The group, who will be wearing fancy dress are looking for sponsorship for the event, which will see them walk from the March sign in Wimblington Road to the one in Wisbech Road and back.

Anyone interested in sponsoring Kelly and her gang should contact the Citizen newsdesk on 01945-586135.