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'I thought he was dead' - Wife's shock after finding husband in heap at bottom of stairs

PUBLISHED: 17:17 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:25 11 January 2019

Jo and Colin White at their Bury St Edmunds home where they are hoping to build a conservatory for Colin.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jo and Colin White at their Bury St Edmunds home where they are hoping to build a conservatory for Colin. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

No-one expects their life to change overnight - but for avid gardener Colin White and his wife Jo, their world was turned upside down after a sleepwalking accident left him paralysed.

Since the accident in 2017 Jo and Colin's lives have completely changed.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSince the accident in 2017 Jo and Colin's lives have completely changed. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“I wondered what on earth the noise was,” explained Mrs White, casting her mind back to the night in December 2017.

The nursing assistant recalls being woken at 4am by a loud thud – she rushed out of bed to find her husband “in a heap” at the bottom of the stairs at their home in Bury St Edmunds.

The couple believe he had either been sleepwalking or he had passed out at the top of the landing.

Colin White is now on the road to recovery after falling down the stairs in 2017 but he will never walk again.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNColin White is now on the road to recovery after falling down the stairs in 2017 but he will never walk again. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It was awful – he had fallen face first onto his neck and I honestly thought he was dead,” Mrs White said.

Her 56-year-old husband, who had been a caretaker at Howard Community Primary School for 18 years, damaged his spinal cord in the accident leaving him with tetraplegia which restricts movement of the limbs.

His wife is now his full-time carer.

Colin and Jo White previously enjoyed days out at Newmarket races. Picture: JO WHITEColin and Jo White previously enjoyed days out at Newmarket races. Picture: JO WHITE

“Our lives have changed completely,” she said.

“Colin was always into his DIY and his gardening, he was a very hands on man – but now he can barely move his hands or clench his fists.”

Mrs White added: “It’s so scary because you never expect something like that to happen in your home.”

Colin used to like fishing before the accident in 2017. Picture: JO WHITEColin used to like fishing before the accident in 2017. Picture: JO WHITE

A year on, and after four months of intensive rehabilitation at a specialist spinal unit in Sheffield and weekly physiotherapy sessions, Mr White is now able to walk a few steps with assistance.

But most of his time is spent in a wheelchair in front of the TV watching films.

The 56-year-old is desperate to be able to get outside and “see the birds” says his wife, which was an activity he enjoyed doing before his fall.

St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir are hosting a performance in aid of Colin White. Picture: WARWICK LOWESt Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir are hosting a performance in aid of Colin White. Picture: WARWICK LOWE

The couple’s home in McIntyre Walk currently has steps out the back leading to the garden, so Mr White is unable to access it.

They have set up a campaign to try and raise £5,000 in order to build a conservatory and make alterations to the downstairs layout to make things easier for him.

Since the accident, Mrs White said: “The community have rallied together and their support has been amazing.”

The St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir is hosting a concert in aid of Mr White on Thursday, February 7.

Vice chairman Barry Cole said: “Colin has been a good friend of ours for more than 18 years as he used to open and close the school which acted as our rehearsal venue.

“We got to know him really well, he is a lovely man and suffered a horrific accident.”

The choir, which is the largest male ensemble in East Anglia, will perform 16 to 18 songs at Howard Community Primary School in Bury St Edmunds.

The concert is free to attend, however they are asking for donations to be put towards Mr White’s campaign.

Frames and Conservatories in Bury St Edmunds have also offered to build the conservatory for £5,000.

The company has already been lending a hand, clearing out the White family’s garden in preparation.

To donate, get in touch with Mrs White.

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