A LUCKY Monmouthshire couple say they have a new appreciation for life after one survived a brain haemorrhage and the other breast cancer.

Mark Pritchard, aged 55, and his wife Sarah, aged 49, from Penperlleni, say their serious illnesses were the best things that ever happened to them.

Mr Pritchard suffered a brain haemorrhage on April 8, 2009, and was rushed to the Royal Gwent Hospital.

The civil servant slipped into a coma.

He was in a coma for three days and had a number of brain surgeries including putting platinum coils in his brain.

The couple had only been in a relationship for six months when Mr Pritchard suffered his brain injury and two years later, almost to the day on April 9, 2011, on what he calls his “brainiversary” the couple got married.

He said: “I am very lucky to be alive.

“It’s not exact figures but to put it in perspective – 33 per cent of people who have a brain haemorrhage die on the spot, 33 per cent of people die in hospital and 33 per cent of people survive but are severely disabled.

“That leaves the one per cent who are lucky like me that slip the net unscathed.”

Mrs Pritchard, a higher level teaching assistant at Croesyceiliog Primary School, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2013.

The lump was removed and she underwent six courses of chemotherapy and three weeks of radiotherapy.

She has recently been given the all clear after two years. The couple have vowed to live life to the fullest since their illnesses and have completed route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles and have taking up 50s-style dancing.

Mr Pritchard, originally from Ringland, said: ”It changed both our perspectives on life. The fact that I had six years longer than I should have – I got to be here to help Sarah through her chemotherapy and see my daughter go to university.

“We were coming to the end of the route 66 journey and Sarah turned to me and said this trip was worth having cancer for. It has given us a positive attitude on life.

He added: “It is unfair to some extent for those who have been through it and haven’t fared as well as us but honestly from our point of view it has affected our outlook on life and yes it was the best thing to happen to us.”

Mr Pritchard has written a book I’m Never Ill. For more information visit markdpritchard.com