Baby joy for paralysed father

WHEN David Pells was paralysed in a freak swimming accident he and his fianc�e were devastated that they had to postpone their wedding.

Annie Davidson

WHEN David Pells was paralysed in a freak swimming accident he and his fianc�e were devastated that they had to postpone their wedding.

David and his wife-to-be Stephanie Smith were forced to put their big day on hold as he spent months in a specialist hospital having treatment for his spinal injuries.

After a long spell of rehabilitation, David, who grew up in Harwich, was discharged from hospital and began to adjust to life in a wheelchair.

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The couple finally tied the knot in September 2001, more than a year after the accident, and began married life - but always hoped to complete their happiness by having a family.

On January 20, their dream came true when Stephanie gave birth to their first child Imogen Frances. Weighing in at 9lbs 1.5ozs, the little bundle of joy came into the world 13 days late by emergency caesarean.

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David, whose parents Teresa and Stephen Pells still live in Harwich, said his wife and new daughter were now at home and doing fine.

“They are really well - they are both perfect,” said the proud dad.

“Stephanie was in hospital for five days but now they are home and we are just getting used to our new lives”

The couple had wanted children for some time and were over the moon with the arrival of Imogen almost nine years on from when David was injured in February 2000.

Then aged 23 and an assistant cook in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, David had been on a day off in Oman when he went for a swim and was knocked chin-first onto the seabed by a strong wave.

The split second incident broke his neck and left the former Harwich School pupil close to drowning as he floated facedown in the water unable to move.

Luckily a friend and colleague who had been swimming with him noticed his plight and went to his aid.

Tests revealed David had broken his neck and he was left paralysed from the chest down with only the use of his arms and limited movement in his hands.

He spent months having rehabilitation at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire before moving back to the home he and Stephanie had bought together in Newcastle.

Since then David has gone to university and was awarded a degree in applied computers for business and works as an applications developer for an IT company.

He has also set up his own wheelchair rugby team The Bulls and has played in tournaments in the UK and across Europe.

David, 32, said: “I have come a long way and looking at things I have achieved I suppose I have done quite a lot, but I have always looked at my goals and thought 'what do I need to do to achieve it?'

“I think it can be easy to be complacent about your partner. Steph is my wife, she is not my carer, but it has made my life easier having someone to be with, to love and who loves me.

“Steph knew me before the accident and accepted me for who I was but more importantly she accepts me the way I am now.”

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