News

A groom’s special speech after tragedy strikes

STRONG BOND: Paul North married Diann Harris on Fraser Island on December 28. Paul survived a horrific freak accident that left him with a crushed skull. He has had to learn how to walk and talk again and as he focused on his rehabilitation, practising his groom’s speech so he could tell Diann how much he loved her at their upcoming wedding became his priority.
STRONG BOND: Paul North married Diann Harris on Fraser Island on December 28. Paul survived a horrific freak accident that left him with a crushed skull. He has had to learn how to walk and talk again and as he focused on his rehabilitation, practising his groom’s speech so he could tell Diann how much he loved her at their upcoming wedding became his priority.

IT'S a theme we have seen played out on the silver screen of the latest Hollywood romantic comedy time and time again - the idea that love can overcome anything, even the greatest of life's obstacles.

But to see it happen in real life is much more special.

On November 18, 2012, Diann Harris, 45, got a phone call that changed her life.

She had just started a new job at George Town Council in Beauty Point, Tasmania, and her partner of three-and-a-half years, Paul North, 44, was packing up their belongings in North Queensland so he could join her.

The two had joined the dating website RSVP and when they saw each other's profiles they each noticed that they had a lot in common.

The two had a shared love of motorcycles, football and fishing and after speaking on the phone, they decided to meet.

When they knew it was serious, Diann, who is originally from Maryborough, made the decision to move to North Queensland to start a life with Paul.

FAR LEFT: Paul North in hospital after the horrific freak accident that left him with severe head injuries.
FAR LEFT: Paul North in hospital after the horrific freak accident that left him with severe head injuries.

The power plant where Paul was working had just closed and he was out of a job.

Deciding the news offered an opportunity for a new adventure, Paul asked Diann if she wanted to move to a place he had always dreamed of living - Beauty Point.

But tragedy struck when Paul attempted to tie down his 300kg Harley motorbike on to the back of a trailer.

In a freak accident, the motorbike fell on top of him, crushing his skull.

Diann rushed to his side after she was told to get to Townsville Hospital as quickly as she could because "he may not make it".

Paul underwent life-saving surgery and had five metal plates inserted into his skull.

Diann told the council, where she had been working for three months, that she would need extended leave so she could be by Paul's side as he recovered.

She said they offered her their full support.

LEFT: Paul was left with five metal plates in his head after his 300kg motorbike fell on him and crushed his skull.
LEFT: Paul was left with five metal plates in his head after his 300kg motorbike fell on him and crushed his skull.

After five weeks in hospital, Paul was stable but the accident had left him unable to walk or talk and that meant Paul had to undergo extensive rehabilitation in order to regain those skills.

Diann was warned he might never walk or talk properly again.

But with the help of a speech pathologist and the rehabilitation team at Launceston General Hospital, Paul was able to regain his mobility.

His speech was still faltering, but was improving every day.

Because of the accident, Paul was left with little sense of time and was unable to remember how to use money.

The couple found ways of dealing with his condition as Paul began to do tasks around the house, setting alarms that would remind him about a job that needed doing.

Paul took on the responsibility of cooking dinner with the aid of the alarms that reminded him when he needed to turn off the oven - but no system was foolproof, Diann wryly acknowledged.

"He's only tried to burn the house down twice," she said.

"That's not too bad."

BELOW: Channel 7’s Today Tonight program covered the wedding, filming as the couple exchanged their vows.
BELOW: Channel 7’s Today Tonight program covered the wedding, filming as the couple exchanged their vows.

On Diann's birthday, Paul asked her if she would become his wife, a moment Diann had never believed would happen after the accident that almost claimed his life.

After their engagement, some people told Diann they had expected that, considering the challenges Paul was facing, she would eventually leave him.

"I told them 'don't be stupid,'" Diann said.

"That never entered my mind - I love him."

The accident, while terrible, brought them closer together, Diann said.

Despite the bad days where Paul gets frustrated with the limitations that have been placed upon him by the accident - and Diann acknowledges she has had her bad days too - they were able to build a life together.

"We stuck by each other," she said.

Paul knew their wedding would be more than a celebration of love - it would be a celebration of life.

And with the help of his rehabilitation team, he was determined to let Diann know exactly how much she meant to him on their special day.

In the weeks leading up to exchanging vows with the love of his life on December 28, 2013, Paul worked on both his groom's speech and his vows, determined he would be able to communicate what he wanted to say on one of the most important days of his life.

With both their families living in Maryborough, it made sense to both Paul and Diann to bring their wedding to the Fraser Coast.

They both wanted to be married on the beach and Fraser Island seemed to be the ideal place to hold their dream wedding.

After painstakingly working on the speech in rehab, Paul was not only able to say his vows, but give the speech he wanted to give to his new wife.

Diann said up until a few weeks ago, she was still Paul's "awfully" wedded wife, instead of his "lawfully" wedded wife as he struggled to enunciate the words.

But she cheekily assured him that was close enough.

After the wedding vows were exchanged, with Fraser Coast celebrant Christine Smith guiding the couple through the ceremony, and the two became husband and wife, it was time for Paul to give his speech in front of about 20 of the couple's closest friends and family.

Turning to his beautiful bride, Paul told those gathered that after four-and-a-half years, Diann had decided she could "put up with me and my ways".

"I must say that I am grateful for that," he said.

"Di has showed me that love is real and not just a word.

"I look forward to growing old disgracefully with her."

The couple can't afford to go on a honeymoon yet, but that's something they are greatly looking forward to doing in the future, Diann said.

In the meantime, Diann said Paul's condition had improved 500% since he first left the hospital all those months ago and she was looking forward to sharing a bright future together.

And as for the Harley-Davidson that caused Paul's injuries, it's still parked in the garage of the couple's home in Tasmania.

And while the couple acknowledge that it's unlikely Paul will be able to drive again for at least a few years, he says he dreams of riding his beloved motorbike again some day.

Topics:  editors picks marriage weddings



Science Festival seriously awesome

CALLING everyone who wants to see, hear and be a part of something totally cool: this is where you need to be this March.

Drink where the cool kids do this summer

There are a bunch of new bars open in Brisbane, make sure you're there!

CHECK out these new funky bars.

Discover Brisbane’s laneway gems

Brisbane's laneways will surprise you.

NOT all of Brisbane City is as it seems…

Top five things to experience this summer in Brisbane

Tangalooma is amazing if you're keen for a dive, kayak or swim.

THIS summer get out and explore your capital city.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls…find them on these drives!

The Scenic Rim is just one place nearby that you'll love.

BRISBANE isn’t all bright lights and city slickers.

Your boots are made for walking these tours

Brisbane Greeters tours are a great way to learn the local history of the city.

YOU don’t need a bike or bus for a seriously good tour of Brisbane.

Is Brisbane the new arts and culture capital?

Check out GOMA's latest exhibition - it's all about hair! GOMA 10 Ambassador Patience Hodgson visits Nervescape V 2016 by Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir (aka Shoplifter), commissioned for ‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’ at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. 
Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA

THE rest of the world should be envious of this line-up!

GALLERY: Council workers set up new CBD flood levee

The temporary flood levee is erected during an exercise along Adelaide St in Maryborough. An army of council workers piecing the levee together near the cnr. of Adelaide and Kent Sts.

Streets were closed in the Maryborough CBD during the dry-run.

Showers forecast: We'll believe it when we see it

Hervey Bay received 1.8mm overnight Sunday.

Qld cancer rate triples in 30 years: Cancer Council

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn AO.

More than 27,000 cancer cases have been noted in Qld since 1982.

Local Partners

Why Hollywood’s siding with Brad Pitt over Angelina Jolie

TOWARD the end of last month’s Golden Globes ceremony, the producer of the nominated drama Moonlight made a surprise onstage appearance: Brad Pitt.

Tensions high at pointy end of MKR's round two

Things are really heating up on My Kitchen Rules.

Games are being played around the My Kitchen Rules table

Jungle Jay sent packing from I'm a Celebrity

I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Here! contestant Jay Laga'aia with Keira.

BIG friendly giant Jay Laga'aia has been eliminated from I'm A Celeb

Carson Kressley brings 'camp' to I'm a Celebrity jungle

"I am not all Park Avenue and daffodils” ... Carson Kressley.

Meet the "campest” campmate to star on I'm a Celebrity.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi mystery already solved

FILE- This undated file photo provided by Disney shows Daisey Ridley as Rey, left, and John Boyega as Finn, in a scene from the film, \"Star Wars: The Force Awakens.\" Hasbro said it is changing its Star Wars Monopoly set after an 8-year-old girl became upset that Rey, the movie's female heroine, was not included as a figure along with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. (Disney/Lucasfilm via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT

A key mystery surrounding the title of episode eight has been solved

Kids' game "full of f**king paedophiles" according to dad

A mortified dad has expressed serious concerns over an online game

Lisa Marie Presley's ex caught with child pics: court

Lisa Marie Presley, at right, and her husband, Michael Lockwood back in 2010. FILE

Lisa Marie, 49, claimed she was left “sick to her stomach”

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

Expert: Why renters, home buyers may struggle

Matusik Property Insights director Michael Matusik.

What's next for the city's housing market

50 more high rise buildings planned for Brisbane CBD

Height limits have been scrapped for Brisbane CBD

800,000 more people expected to work in city over next 20 years

New suburb in the crosshairs of Coast vandals

UNDER WRAPS: Graffiti on art installations at the entrance to the newly opened Bells Creek Arterial Road has been covered up.

Vandal rechristens Stockland as something less than complimentary

What $11.9m can get you on Coast's most exclusive street

29-31 Wyuna Drive Noosaville Qld 4566

This is what a cool $11.9m can get you

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!