A MAN badly hurt in a works accident in Huddersfield ended up paralysed - but found love.
John Delaney, 36, was working down a 40ft shaft on Queen Street South in Huddersfield seven years ago when he and a colleague, David Radford, were hit by two metal objects which fell from the top.
John's back was broken and he was hit with such force it forced vertebrae into his spinal cord, damaging it beyond any hope of repair.
Former professional boxer David, also 36 and living in Hemsworth, suffered a shattered shoulder and collarbone and was covered in blood.
He finally returned to work, but still suffers bad back pain.
It was John's life that changed for ever that day in August, 1999.
There were two aspects to his working life. His father, Joe, ran several pubs in Leeds and John often worked behind the bar.
But he loved the outdoors and worked in the building industry.
Ironically, the only reason he was working for Walsall company Barhale Construction in Huddersfield was because the man usually doing the job had cancer and was seeing doctors.
The shaft was part of a scheme to divert sewage pipes during work to restore Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
John worked alongside three other men in a 10ft-wide space at the bottom of the shaft, digging it deeper and deeper. It was tough.
"Huddersfield must be founded on rock," he said. "It was a really hard job, but we had almost completed the digging when the accident happened."
As the team dug, cylindrical concrete supports round the shaft were forced down from the top, using hydraulic rams.
The concrete pieces were cushioned one from the other by large chunks of steel and wood known as foot blocks. One of these blocks - possibly two - fell.
John and his workmates had no warning.
"I remember hearing a noise like thunder," he said. "The next moment I was unconscious. When I came round I was laying in a pool of water. I remember trying to sit up, but couldn't. It was all so vague.
"Then there was a firefighter or a paramedic next to me, asking if I could feel him touching me.
"I must have passed out again, because the next thing I remember was coming round in a scanning unit at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary."
The scan led to John being moved to Leeds General Infirmary, where surgeons considered operating. But they decided against it and he was moved to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, where he remained until December 1 that year.
John said: "They told me my back was broken. I could use my arms, but couldn't move my legs at all. The doctors put me on six weeks' complete bed rest, flat on my back to see if the broken vertebrae in my back would recalcify and fuse back together.
"I knew at LGI my back had gone and that was it. No-one said at that stage that I'd never walk again, but subconsciously I knew that was it.
"In the end I asked a doctor upfront."
John had to learn how to live again - but in a wheelchair.
"It was scary," he said. "I had to retrain both my body and my mind. I'd always been fit, trim and healthy and went to the gym a couple of times a week.
"Now I had to begin all over again, starting with transferring from my bed to the wheelchair."
Mentally, he was determined never to get bitter or be low, although he is in constant back pain. "I don't let myself get down about being in the wheelchair," he said.
"And I've never blamed anyone for what happened to me. It was an accident and the company has been very supportive.
"Some days I can be laughing and joking. On others, what's happened gets to me.
"The worst thing now is the constant pain. I've tried all sorts of medication, but I've never liked putting chemicals in my body and they haven't really worked anyway. Some nights I barely get an hour's sleep."
John is exploring alternative methods of pain relief and is considering hynotherapy.
He regularly attends a rehabilitation centre in Wakefield.
He said: "The only way I can describe the pain in my back is to get hold of a plastic ruler and bend it until it's about to snap. That's the way my back feels all the time."
Cerebral fluid blocking the spinal cord led to a second operation at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the summer, 2003. Surgeons removed a small part of the cord to relieve the pressure.
The problem was threatening to damage John's neck and left arm.
John has two sons, 17-year-old Padraic, the British junior Thai boxing champion, and Michael, 13.
Until he was paralysed, John lived in Leeds. In August, 2002, he decided to leave city life behind.
With money from interim compensation he moved to a four-bedroom bungalow in a village near Selby.
He rarely went out, but one night in 2004 a friend insisted on taking him to a Leeds nightclub.
Helen Brindley, a beauty therapist on a `night out with the girls' from Newcastle, saw him and they got chatting.
Phone numbers were swapped, they met again and romance blossomed.
Last summer, 36-year-old Helen and her daughter, Becky, 11, moved in with John. The couple are now inseparable.
Helen said: "I just love to make him happy. John has always made me laugh and has the ability to make you feel the most special person when he's speaking to you.