Together for Christmas - family will be under one roof for first time in a year

John King (left) and Michael Batridge at the GER club in March earlier this year.
John King (left) and Michael Batridge at the GER club in March earlier this year.

A March family torn apart by a devastating accident nearly 12 months ago are hoping to be reunited under the same roof early in the new year.

And they are also looking forward to spending Christmas together in a specially adapted holiday home in Hunstanton.

Refuse collector John King lost both his legs and was left fighting for his life after the horrific accident on January 25 involving a Fenland dustcart and a parked lorry.

He endured months of rehabilitation and has been waiting since May to return home to his wife Sarah and their six children: Jennifer (14), Kristina (13), Laura (11), April (10), David (6) and Stephenie (3), but has been unable to because the current family home is unsuitable for his wheelchair.

John (50) has been living at Askham House Care Home in Doddington since he was released from hospital in May and the family have been desperately waiting for a new suitable home to be found.

“We have been waiting, but it has become obvious that there is nothing suitable and we just don’t want to wait any longer. It has been so hard being apart, so thankfully we have managed to find a private rent,” explained Sarah, who was horrified last week after heartless vandals sprayed graffiti insults on the front of their current home.

“My daughters noticed it when they left for school. I couldn’t believe it. But then the next day there was even more. I think it’s disgusting, we try to keep ourselves to ourselves and not cause any trouble. We have enough to cope with without someone doing this,” said Sarah.

The house they have found in Elwyn Road is not entirely suitable for the family but Sarah is confident it can be adapted to be the family home they need. John and Sarah will have what should be the dining room as their bedroom and the family will have to pay to have all the alterations made including creating a wet room in the groundfloor annexe.

“We have agreed with the landlord that we will pay for the alterations, and we hope to eventually buy the property. It is not the perfect home we hoped for, we would have liked a big bungalow, but it we will make the best of it and most importantly we can be together,” said Sarah.

She said the children have particularly suffered with one of the daughters suffering bullying over her dad’s injuries, and two of the children have been living with their grandparents to ease the load on Sarah.

But they are looking forward to a traditional Christmas altogether.

“We had a summer holiday in the holiday cottage and because we didn’t know whether we would have a new home in time for Christmas we decided to book it again, so we can all be together on Christmas day,” said Sarah.

She is worried John, who worked as a Fenland bin man for 26 years, might eventually get upset when he is unable to get upstairs to read the children their bedtime stories.

“We won’t be able to afford to have a lift installed, even though there is room for one, so John will miss out on the little things like tucking his son into bed at night,” said Sarah.

John, who was given a 50/50 chance of survival after the accident, was a passenger in the dustcart which was being driven by co-worker Alan Smith, who has suffered mental trauma since the accident.

Fellow co-worker Michael Bagridge (23), who was seated between John and Alan lost his leg in the horror crash. He has vowed to get fit enough to return to work using a prosthetic leg.

John and Michael spent time together on the same rehabiliation ward at Peterborough City Hospital and were together again in April when John enjoyed his first night out after the accident when he attended the presentation evening for the North Witchford Darts League where his Little London pub team won the runners-up trophy.

John’s next ambition is to get fit enough to have prosthetic legs so he can walk his daughters down the aisle when the time comes.