I was looking forward to my husband, Noel, going away for the weekend. As a busy mum of three, I didn’t get much time alone and I had big plans.
While Noel was in Cannes in the south of France, I was going on a girlie break to Cambridge, miles from my home in Worthing, West Sussex.
On the first day, just an hour after I arrived, we were enjoying a glass of wine in a restaurant when I pulled my phone out my bag and saw I had 10 missed calls.
Worried, I called the number back and realised it was the friend Noel was away with. He told me not to panic but that my husband had been in an accident.
A motorcycle had ploughed into him as he stood on a pavement and filmed the roadside. His friend said he had a broken leg but wanted me and his mum, who is a nurse.
I knew then it must be serious. An accident on the motorway and busy flights meant I couldn’t get to France for a few days. When I arrived, Noel had been in surgery to stabilise the break and was still drowsy.
He stayed in hospital in France for a few weeks with me by his side. Arriving back in England was only the start of our journey though.
Despite intensive physiotherapy it was clear Noel’s leg was never going to be the same again. He couldn’t return to his job as a freelance cameraman and needed a lot of care.
I put on a brave face but I used to cry as I drove the 45 minutes to work. Things got worse in summer 2011, about nine months after the accident, when Noel developed the superbug MRSA in his bone.
His leg looked awful, the wounds weren’t healing properly. He’d climb the stairs to bed on his knees. In the morning he slid down on his bum. It took him ages.
It was clear he wasn’t getting better and doctors gave him the opportunity to amputate his leg. Despite the enormity of what they were saying we didn’t have to think twice. We knew things couldn’t carry on as they were.
I sent a round robin message telling people what was happening – not your typical family newsletter. Most people were happy for us with some telling us Noel’s leg looked terrible.
Our children, Joe, now 26, Mark, 24, and Oliver, 21, joked that he would look like a pirate. That autumn, around a year after the crash, Noel had his leg amputated below the knee.
To be honest it was a relief, as we could begin to think about getting a prosthetic fitted. But this was expensive and with Noel not working we needed the money.
So, solicitor’s firm Irwin Mitchell helped us claim for the accident. In May this year, the French motorcyclist’s insurance company paid out nearly £50,000.
This will allow Noel to have more prosthetics fitted in the future as the shape of his leg changes. He still suffers from phantom leg pain but never complains.
For the first time, a few weeks ago, we watched the video of his crash. Noel had been filming the view from the pavement, when a bike came round the corner.
My heart was in my throat as it fell, slid across the road and crashed right into Noel. It was shocking to see. When he set off for France all that time ago, he planned to get some great footage.
What he didn’t expect to shoot was the accident which would eventually lead to his leg being amputated.