Ex-soldier Peter Coghlan, brought up in Whaley Bridge and now living in Australia, has returned to the UK for a holiday with his boyhood friend and schoolmate at Chapel High School.
Peter, 36, is a walking, talking miracle man. He recovered more quickly from ‘locked in syndrome’ following a stroke than any previously recorded case. Peter, son of a former Greater Manchester police officer and a Stepping Hill nurse, lived on Buxton Road, Whaley Bridge, as it begins the climb up Long Hill. He now lives in Australia with his Romiley-born wife Jade.
They are holidaying with Peter’s childhood friend, builder Dan Hodson (formerly from Chinley) and his partner Andrea at their Marple home. Peter says he is enjoying the ‘fresh’ English weather, a bit different from sub-tropical Perth, Western Australia.
As a soldier in the Cheshire Regiment, Peter survived IRA terror attacks in Northern Ireland, then cancer, although it cost him his Army career. More recently, he was hit by the massive brain-stem stroke as he was starting a new life with Jade in Australia in March 2011. It left him with locked in syndrome, half his brain destroyed. His recovery is described as the fastest in the world for a locked in syndrome patient.
Peter, once totally paralysed apart from eye movements, had lain so near to death that he heard a medic discussing when the life support machine might be switched off.
Those eye movements became Peter’s communication link as he blinked to indicate a letter on an alphabet board with his partner Jade or a nurse, spelling out a word and then a sentence. It was the start of Peter’s amazing fightback and eventual authorship of a book a book as gripping as any thriller. In the Blink of an Eye, published by Amazon, has been edited by Dan’s aunt, children’s author Jacy Brean, who lives in the Peak District. In Australia, Peter has been nominated for a Pride of Australia Award. You can see more about this on http://prideofaustralia.com.au