An actor/director who works for the Chester company Theatre in the Quarter has married his true love, eight months after they both escaped death.
Joe Mann, a former Upton-by-Chester High School pupil, and his fiancée Jess Hunt suffered catastrophic injuries when their car was hit head-on by another motorist driving without a licence.
Joe, 28, needed emergency surgery after suffering internal bleeding and part of his bowel had to be removed while also suffering a fractured spine.
The couple were hit by the car while travelling to Pembrokeshire to enjoy a holiday with Joe's family, who live in the Garden Quarter, last May.
Jess 26, managed to stride down the aisle on Saturday, January 28, just weeks after finally being able to walk unaided again following the horror smash.
And the newlyweds, who married in Mold, asked guests who wished to buy them a gift to donate the money instead to the Wales Air Ambulance and the medics who saved their lives.
Jess told her story to WalesOnline . She said: “Because we were in the middle of nowhere, an ambulance would not have got there in time to take us to hospital by road. It would have been too late,” Jess said.
“Amazingly, the Wales Air Ambulance arrived in 16 minutes.”
“Joe and I were in separate parts of the hospital and I had to rely on other people to tell me how he was doing.
“I still have the photo of when we were finally allowed to see each other after Joe was well enough following his surgery.
“I was taken by wheelchair to his ward and I think we both just fell asleep!
“We didn’t have any of our belongings with us when we arrived at the hospital.
“We had our dog, Mia, with us in the car too.
“One of the police officers took her home and looked after her overnight while we were in hospital. We had no idea at the time.”
Joe added: “We were both in a very serious condition in hospital. I can’t quite believe we were married on the date we originally set two years ago.”
Jess, whose career as a dance teacher has now been cut short, suffered a fractured femur so her leg was put into a splint and the next day she had a five-hour operation to insert a metal nail to her leg to fix the break.
Four months after surgery she needed a second operation and still has physio sessions.
She is only now slowly learning to walk without support.
“I had to learn to walk again,” she said.
“Technically my leg is still broken as the bones haven’t healed yet.
“I still need to stop to rest often and it can be painful after being on my feet for a while.”
Joe was initially in hospital for nine days after initial surgery after which the pair moved in with their parents as they couldn’t look after each other.
“Days later I was still in a great deal of pain in my tummy and I couldn’t eat or drink anything,” Joe said.
“My parents took me back to hospital as things weren’t right.
“It was then they discovered I had a serious infection caused by a blockage in my bowel and I needed treatment straightaway.
“My stomach was drained through a tube which was a really painful and unpleasant experience.
“I was given strong antibiotics and spent the next eight days recovering in hospital.”
A motorist was banned from driving
Following the collision William Alfred Roy Williams, 70, of Bron Y Gaer, Llanfyllin, admitted driving without due care and attention, without a licence or insurance and was sentenced at Welshpool Magistrates’ Court in January.
Magistrates banned him from driving for six months and fined him £120 for driving without due care and attention.
He was ordered to pay £300 compensation to the couple, with any other claims coming from the motor insurance bureau.
Williams was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Magistrates told the court they had limited powers and the sentence in no way reflected the seriousness of the injuries suffered.
The wedding has kept their spirits up
On Saturday Jess wore a pair of lacy pearl coloured trainers with her dress but wore the gold heels she originally planned to wear on her wedding day to walk down the aisle.
She said: “Throughout all of this, the wedding has really kept us going.
“Through all that has happened, Joe was certain he didn’t want to move the date back.
“It was a very emotional day with lots of special references to the journey we’ve been on to get here.
“We can’t thank the Wales Air Ambulance enough for everything they did to help us.
“Instead of a gift list, we’ve set up a Just Giving page for the charity.
“Staff at Wales Air Ambulance’s Welshpool base recorded a special video message for us too to play on the day which was really emotional.
“Everyone was in tears by the end!”
Jess and Joe have set up a Just Giving page for anyone who wishes to make a donation to the Wales Air Ambulance.