Motorbike enthusiast survives horror collision that had a “99 per cent chance of death” – and defies paralysis to see his brother wed

·8-min read

Brotherly love knows no bounds for a paralysed motorbike enthusiast who was determined to see his younger sibling tie the knot despite his attendance needing nearly as much planning as the wedding itself.

Left with a bent neck and paralysed from the chest down after a catastrophic collision with another vehicle in 2019, former company managing director Marcus Wodehouse, 63, had barely left the house until his landscape gardener brother, James Warner, 47, wed his partner-of-10 years, Angela Warner-Young, 38, an entrepreneur, in February this year.

But Marcus, who lives in Barnham, West Sussex, with his wife Deborah Wodehouse, 61, a retired community nurse, said: “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, it was just a question of how it was going to work.”

Marcus was left paralysed from the chest down. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus was left paralysed from the chest down. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I have very complex needs and a lot of equipment has to travel with me wherever I go. It took a lot of planning to get myself there.”

Travelling to London for the big day was no mean feat for Marcus, who requires around-the-clock care, with two day carers and two at night, when he uses breathing apparatus and has a modified electric bed.

Making the trip with his caring team and his wife, Marcus, who does not have kids, said: “Everywhere I go, I need to take two suitcases of equipment with me.”

Marcus was very active before his accident, cycling to work every day as well as rollerblading and gardening. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus was very active before his accident, cycling to work every day as well as rollerblading and gardening. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I need a hoist, I have a large wheelchair and I drive in a modified car that wouldn’t be suitable for long journeys.

“For the wedding trip, we hired a larger vehicle and I rented out rooms for me, my wife and my four carers at a hotel next door to the wedding venue.

“I had to organise for a special bariatric electric bed to be hired and replace my hotel bed for the duration of my stay and we all arrived the day before to make sure I wouldn’t be too tired from travelling to attend the ceremony.”

Marcus spent months planning his journey to his brother’s wedding. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus spent months planning his journey to his brother’s wedding. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I worked with a company called Care at Home, which is the domiciliary care branch of the care provider, CHD Living.

“The Care at Home team worked with my night care team, the Guardian Angels as well as my consultant and occupational therapist to make sure the room was set up with everything I would need.”

But, after months of planning to rival the wedding preparations, they pulled it off.

The 63-year-old has complex needs and requires round-the-clock care. (Collect/PA Real Life)
The 63-year-old has complex needs and requires round-the-clock care. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Marcus said: “Considering I hadn’t ventured further than a KFC drive-thru since my accident, it was truly throwing me in at the deep end, but we all had a wonderful time.

“I took some family and my carers out for a meal in London when we arrived.

“Then, on the day, I spent about four hours with my family before I got tired and had to return to the hotel for a nap.”

He added: “Even though the wedding took place during Storm Eunice, it all went off without a hitch.”

Before his accident, Marcus was an incredibly active man.

He said: “I cycled to work every day, I rollerbladed and I was a very keen gardener.”

Marcus pictured with Deborah at his brother’s wedding. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus pictured with Deborah at his brother’s wedding. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I had a beautiful Harley-Davidson motorcycle and I’ve been on some of the biggest and highest roads around Europe.

“I’ve ridden along some of the highest roads over the Alps and I’ve crossed the Pyrenees.

“I also have some wonderful memories of completing cycling tours with my wife.”

The couple have fond memories of motorcycling trips. (Collect/PA Real Life)
The couple have fond memories of motorcycling trips. (Collect/PA Real Life)

But the experienced motorcyclist’s life changed forever on August 22, 2019 when he took his beloved bike out for a spin and collided with another vehicle.

He said: “There was nothing I could do to avoid it.”

Colliding at nearly 50mph and landing on his head, Marcus was lucky to survive.

Marcus says he feels very lucky to be alive. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus says he feels very lucky to be alive. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He said: “I should have died. In an accident like that, I believe there is a 99 per cent chance of death, but by a stroke of luck, I didn’t break my neck, I bent it, leaving me paralysed from the chest down.”

The first responder – a police officer – performed 15 minutes of constant CPR on Marcus until the paramedics arrived and he was airlifted to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south west London.

He said: “I was in a coma and my wife was given the news that if I didn’t wake up then she would have a tough decision to make.”

Marcus says there was a 99 percent chance that he would die from the collision. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus says there was a 99 percent chance that he would die from the collision. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “But, four days after the accident, I stuck my head above the parapet and woke up.”

Needing help to breathe and being tube-fed through his stomach, he faced a gruelling journey, but Marcus was determined to get well enough to go home.

He said: “The doctors told me I was looking at around 24 weeks before I’d be able to breathe on my own. I told them that wouldn’t do for me and they seemed bemused.”

Marcus motorbiked on the highest roads in Europe and across the Alps. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus motorbiked on the highest roads in Europe and across the Alps. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “They didn’t realise how serious I was. I went through toil with physiotherapy and rehabilitation and, seven weeks and four days after the accident, I was finally able to breathe without support.

“Shortly after the accident, I could feel a flicker of movement in my left index finger, but it has taken 16 months with multiple physiotherapists, both on the NHS and privately, to be able to start to move it properly.

“Now I can use my left hand to control my wheelchair for a few minutes at a time, about three or four times a day and my right hand is starting to flicker. It’s a very, very slow process but within the next year, my target is to completely operate my wheelchair using my hand.”

Marcus pictured with his two brothers, Adrian (on the left) and the groom, James (on the right). (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus pictured with his two brothers, Adrian (on the left) and the groom, James (on the right). (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “For the most part, I control my wheelchair with my mouth, which is demoralising and debilitating, but I also feel so lucky to be alive.

“I’m in constant pain and I have to work incredibly hard every day to exercise my arms and legs to prevent them from atrophying, but throughout it all, I’ve retained my character and my sense of humour.

“I’m not a glass half empty or half full person, I believe in the full glass. I don’t believe in failure.”

Marcus exercises his arms and legs every day. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus exercises his arms and legs every day. (Collect/PA Real Life)

But despite his positive attitude, Marcus was still adapting to leaving the house when his brother announced his engagement in August 2021.

He said: “My brother James has been with his partner, Angela, for 10 years and in August last year they announced that they were getting married in London in February 2022.

“At that point, I hadn’t even ventured to a restaurant yet or driven any distance.”

He added: “The wedding was taking place at the Oxo Tower in London which was around a two and a half hour drive away.

“I had no idea how I was going to manage it, but I knew I wasn’t going to miss the big day.

“I spent over 30 years working in logistics, so I took charge of planning my journey.”

Marcus was an experienced motorcyclist before his crash. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus was an experienced motorcyclist before his crash. (Collect/PA Real Life)

And his wife and excellent carers supported him every step of the way.

He said: “I can’t thank the team at CHD enough for helping me to organise it. It’s a trip I’ll never forget and I made precious memories with my family. I feel really lucky.

“This trip was months in the planning and throwing on my glad rags for the first time in a long time made me feel human again.”

Marcus currently controls his wheelchair using his mouth. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus currently controls his wheelchair using his mouth. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “Seeing the smile on my brother’s face when he finally tied the knot is a moment I will cherish forever.”

And the trip to his brother’s wedding has broadened Marcus’s horizons, making him keen to embark on more trips soon.

He said: “In a way, this was like scaling the side of a mountain before even hiking up Mount Snowdon. It really was throwing me in at the deep end and it’s made me realise that I can do it.”

Marcus says the wedding has broadened his horizons. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Marcus says the wedding has broadened his horizons. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “So, this summer, I plan to take a lot more day trips with my wife. We hope to take afternoon and evening trips down to the sea for some fresh fish and chips and to make the most of the warmer weather together.

“When I had my accident, my family were preparing for the worst but, while my condition is severe and complex, I still have a lot of living to do.

“My brother’s wedding just marks the start of a new chapter for me – one full of many new experiences and memories.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting