Scots man paralyzed after falling through attic days before dream trip with girlfriend


An Edinburgh man was tragically paralyzed after a horror fall just days before a dream trip abroad with his girlfriend.

Emma Hay, 39, was living with partner Iain, 49, in Edinburgh when she returned home to find he had fallen through their attic while packing for a sabbatical in the south of France in 2016.

The couple’s lives drastically changed after the horror accident, as plans for Iain to run his own business abroad while Emma took leave from Heriot’s Junior School collapsed.

As reported in Edinburgh Live, on July 7, 2016, Iain fell through their loft hatch while tidying – but the pair do not know if he fainted or tripped.

Emma only discovered Iain when she returned home hours later, before the couple were blue-lighted to the Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital, and then onto a special spinal unit in Glasgow where Iain would spend the next eight months.

Describing that day, Emma said: “We had decided to take the sabbatical and live in France for a year, we were getting packed up to do a house sit for friends and then just seven days before we were due to fly Iain was up in the loft sorting out space for our things.

“He either fainted or tripped, and he fell head first through the loft hatch and landed on the floor of the box room below. He lay there for four hours before I got home

Iain spent eight months in a rehabilitation spinal unit
Iain spent eight months in a rehabilitation spinal unit

“By the September, they’d realized no movement was really going to come back so he was moved to the rehabilitation ward and from then on it was getting him used to his paralysis from the neck down.”

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Left quadriplegic from the accident, Emma shared there is “no guidebook” on how to move forward, with the couple facing huge changes to their life.

Feeling as if there was minimal support for her on how to help Iain and navigate their new life, she hopes to see that change for others in the future.

Iain had fallen through the attic hatch in 2016
Iain had fallen through the attic hatch in 2016

She said: “I couldn’t be seen and I just felt invisible in that hospital.

“It just devastated both of our lives, and what I was told really early on was that Iain was getting all of the best care and technology, the doctors and nurses are amazing, but I didn’t get that.

“You suddenly have to know things about your work, selling a top floor flat you can’t live in anymore, and all the practicalities.”

Due to the pressure of their relationship, Emma and Iain have separated since the accident, but have “remained close.”

Moving to Elgin two years ago, Emma is now raising funds for the Highland Hospice, to help with the “incredible” work they do as well as the support they provide to patients and their families.

Still an important part of each other’s lives, Emma shared that Iain has “donated to all of her fundraisers” and still has an “incredibly positive outlook on life.”

She said: “The accident was really confronting and could have destroyed me, so when I looked around and saw all these other people like me that were sort of ‘the people standing beside’ it helped, and when I saw the hospice fundraiser I thought yes I want to help, they’re an amazing charity and they need £7,000 a day to run the hospice.

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Emma will now be fundraising by taking part in Strictly Inverness this spring
Emma will now be fundraising by taking part in Strictly Inverness this spring

“When Iain was in hospital I got involved with a charity called Horatio’s Garden which have put gardens in all of these spinal units around the UK, and looking back that place definitely saved me.”

As well as raising funds through gifts and crafts, Emma will also be taking part in Strictly Inverness, a charity ballroom competition, to help with her efforts.

Training three times a week to perform in front of over 600 people, Emma will take on the huge challenge to celebrate her 40th birthday.

Speaking about her ex, Emma said: “We’re still friends and he texts me everyday, he’s donated for Strictly Inverness and helping where he can.

“His way of seeing the world now is really different, Iain is still hopeful, he does research everyday.

“If you look to the person sitting beside and make sure their needs are met it makes a huge difference as then they can help the person whose lying there, whatever that looks like.”

You can find and donate to Emma’s fundraiser here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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