Perry Cranston was assaulted on a night out in February last year and spent 16 days in a coma as doctors fought to save his life.
The 26-year-old has just endured his fifth surgery, this time to reconstruct his skull, and is now looking to get his life back on track after 17 months.
After hearing about an increase in assaults in recent weeks, Perry decided to speak out about his experience and how his life changed forever that night.
He explained: “I wasn’t even meant to be out that night – I was supposed to go on holiday, but cancelled it as I had an exam to sit on the Monday to qualify as an electrician.
"The night itself was just like every other really, just drinks with my group of mates – nothing out of the ordinary.
"I don’t remember a great deal of what happened, but know I was taken to King’s Mill and blue-lighted to Queen’s Medical Centre, with my mum following in a police car behind as they were unsure whether I was going to make it or not.
"I had a bleed on the brain and fractures to my skull where it had hit the road.
"I spent 16 days in a coma, and they removed half of my skull due to my brain swelling.
"Eventually, I stabilised and was moved to the neuro-rehabilitation unit, where I had to learn to walk and write again.
"I finally returned home almost three months after the incident, to begin the slow process of recovery.”
Despite being back home surrounded by his family, his ordeal was far from over as his brain was still exposed, and he had to wear a protective helmet to minimise risk of further injury.
Perry underwent an operation in August 2020 to reconstruct his skull, however his body rejected the titanium plate and he underwent his fourth operation to remove it just ten days later.
"It was awful” Perry continued.
"I woke up and couldn’t open my left eye and felt really ill, and was again rushed straight to Queen’s Medical Centre to have the plate removed.
"It was such a devastating blow to my recovery, as I knew I would be unable to live my life properly until my skull was reconstructed.
"It felt like I was back to square one.”
Perry finally underwent a successful cranioplasty on June 14 this year, and is now looking to get his life back on track, but he knows it will never be quite the same as it once was.
“I haven’t worked since the incident, and I’ve always been very driven,” he said. “I’ve always worked hard and lived alone for a few years, so that’s been really hard for me being out of work and losing some of my independence.
"I struggle with fatigue and short-term memory loss, and it’s taken a lot of getting used to.
"I just want a normal life back – I have regular sessions with my occupational therapist, and I go to the gym several times a week to keep myself occupied, but it’s taken so much away from me over the past 17 months.
"I’m starting to regain some independence again finally, but it has been really hard.”
After a spate of late night assaults in the town centre in recent weeks, Perry wants to use his experience to warn others of the consequences of alcohol-infused violence.
He said: “People need to understand the damage they can do.
"I was hit several times, but just one of those punches knocked me unconscious and caused all that damage – one punch is all it can take.
"I had police watching over me for the first 48 hours as they didn’t think I would make it, and things could very easily have turned out very differently that night.
"Mansfield is a great place for a night out, and you could go out ten or fifteen times and see no trouble whatsoever, but then some nights it just bubbles over.
"Altercations can start off from something as small as just bumping into someone, or spilling a drink over them, but the consequences can be catastrophic.
"It really isn’t worth it, and people need to understand it’s much better to just walk away, or tell door staff if you sense trouble – it’s what they are there for.
"With pubs and clubs lifting restrictions, the chance of trouble will increase again, but I hope people will just be happy to be out and about, and will be focused on enjoying themselves, spending time with their friends and having a good time.
“Two lives changed forever that night, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
Investigations are currently ongoing after a man was left with similar injuries to Perry just a few hundred metres away from where he was injured, which he says is ‘very worrying’.
The victim, a man in his 20s, was hurt during a disturbance in Toothill Lane, at around 2.30am on Sunday, July 18.
A 20-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy were arrested on the morning of Wednesday, July 21, on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and were later released on bail.
A 24-year-old man was arrested on Monday, July 26, on suspicion of the same offence and has also been released on bail.
Investigations are continuing and police are appealing for witnesses to come forward.