Friends to rescue

PUBLISHED: 01:01 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:46 10 June 2010

IN A heart-warming gesture of support, local artists have rallied round to help run the business of an Exmouth grandfather who broke his spine in a tragic accident. Barbara Hearn, 59, had her world turned upside down when her husband John, 61, was left wi

IN A heart-warming gesture of support, local artists have rallied round to help run the business of an Exmouth grandfather who broke his spine in a tragic accident.Barbara Hearn, 59, had her world turned upside down when her husband John, 61, was left with a severed spine after falling down a flight of stairs at their Exeter Road art gallery. But 15 artists stepped in and volunteered to work at Exmouth Gallery to keep the couple's business open.Now the couple have just received another piece of good news - John has taken his first tentative steps.Originally, John was unaware just how seriously injured he was - and continued to walk around for five days.But one night he got up to go to the toilet, collapsed and was in excruciating pain.He was then rushed to hospital for an emergency six-hour operation - and told he could be paralysed.Barbara feared the accident would spell the end of the gallery while she was caring for her husband during his rehabilitation.Without help, she was forced to shut up shop while she visited her husband - and was using her savings to make ends meet.But thanks to the artists rallying round to help, the couple's luck is changing and the gallery remains open.Mother-of-two Barbara, who opened the gallery five years ago after beating breast cancer, said: "I can't get over the response. I didn't realise how much support we had."The accident is catastrophic for the business, but not one person refused to help."After the accident, I was angry and I cried, but now I have let that go and I feel much better. "I love John. I believe he will walk again. I know he will keep trying. He is very stubborn and I would bet a thousand pounds he will walk again."After the operation, John was tested for feeling in his legs. Slowly, an enormous smile came across the doctor's face when he realised John could feel what he was doing."His progress is amazing and he is already standing up. The worst case scenario is that he will be in a wheelchair. As long as he is well enough to enjoy life, we will be happy."Barbara will post updates at the gallery as John progresses.EDITOR'S NOTE: let us know when your friends help you out during a crisis. Let us help you say thank you!

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