I would have described myself as a Christian, the type of good God fearing chap who worked hard, rarely went to Church other than Christmas and the odd Sunday. I had a firm belief in there being a God but very much intended to put off meeting him as long as possible.
At the time I would have described myself as a Christian, the type of good God fearing chap who worked hard, rarely went to Church other than Christmas and the odd Sunday. I had a firm belief in there being a God but very much intended to put off meeting him as long as possible. I am reminded of a joke I was told which through humour sums up my retrospective telling of our tale.
An atheist is desperately looking for a parking place, late for a business meeting. As time ticks onerously towards his lateness he prays fervently to God, begging for a place and offering to both believe and attend Church every Sunday into the future. Immediately a place appears next to his car and relieved, he looks up and says “Forget I asked, I found one”.
Thus our story was never seen through a Christian lens at the time but now, looking back, I see subtle signs of his voice both within that situation and over subsequent later events in 2012 which left me ‘born again’.
The lady, Katy, was five months pregnant and obviously distressed. She had an overwhelming feeling that something disastrous had occurred to her partner, Tristan. Three of us proceeded to patrol the dark streets of a sleepy Padstow in the early hours trying to locate him.
A choking animal noise alerted us and it became apparent he had sat on a low wall and toppled back, falling nine feet onto his head, breaking his neck. Adele became a calming influence, keeping Katy at a distance whilst I went to assess Tristan. He was choking and I cleared his airway, very aware that despite his terrible location that the slightest movement could prove fatal. Able to breathe we talked, he had feeling but no ability to move his lower limbs.
An ambulance was called but as time ticked away so did Tristan, the two of us gradually charting his paralysis and possible demise. Finally, after nearly two hours help arrived and we were able to assist and advise the ambulance crew to extricate him. The ambulance was not prepared to let Katy ride with Tristan because they feared her going into labour so Adele volunteered to stay with her. They exchanged phone numbers and the story moved to the skill and expertise of the nurses and surgeons in Derriford hospital.
At the time I considered the possibility of Tristan surviving the night at being slight and the chance of him walking again virtually an impossibility. Due to the medical team he not only survived but also recovered and Katy went on to have a healthy baby boy, a happy ending out of a tragedy.
It transpired that both Tristan and Katy were actors and in coming to terms with his predicament he wanted to make a play to thank the NHS and those involved in saving his life. A project called Frankinspine was produced at Bristol Old Vic and we attended, surprised to be thanked at the play's conclusion.
Tristan kindly agreed to give a reading at our wedding in Malmesbury Abbey and purely by chance we ended up getting married exactly seven years to the day after we met that night. During the wedding breakfast we were told they had changed the name to “Mayday Mayday’, his love letter to the NHS. It was to air at the Old Vic the next day before touring via the West End and showing on Broadway. Neither Tristan nor Katy had realised Adele and I had met that night and subsequently I was asked to consider playing myself in the Radio 4 docudrama.
I am now happily married to a lady who became my best friend. Tristan’s accident became a love letter and our involvement created a loving relationship.
I look back now, see the parking spaces and thank God for all the small detail that changed four peoples lives that night with such a positive outcome.
Andrew Carnegie had his baptism reaffirmed by Archbishop Justin Welby at Malmesbury Abbey during his visit to the Diocese last September.
Andrew Carnegie had his
by Archbishop Justin Welby at Malmesbury Abbey during his visit to the Diocese last September.