WHAT a difference a year makes.
This time last year Gary Wainwright was lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life after fending off a Samurai sword-wielding thug to save his daughter, friends and holidaymakers in a bar in Tenerife.
The 54-year-old, from Wadsley Bridge, was on a New Year break with family and friends when a man who had been ejected from the bar in the resort of Playa Paraiso returned brandishing a three-foot sword.
Gary, who runs a coffee shop in Hillsborough and is a sales manager for a heating firm, lunged at the maniac with a chair in an attempt to shield his family and friends - but almost lost an arm in the savage attack.
A bone was broken, an artery was severed and his flesh was hacked by the sword’s blade.
He needed 178 stitches in Tenerife to repair the wounds, and has undergone a total of four operations since the attack, including one to pin and plate his arm together.
Medics told him if friends had not tied a belt around his arm to stem the blood loss he would have died on the holiday island.
Today Gary - who returned to Tenerife for New Year again - said he is looking forward to an uneventful 2012.
“The last 12 months have been full of medical appointments, operations and physio, so I am looking forward to a better year,” he said.
“But despite what happened to me there were still good times too - the highlight being my daughter Leanne’s wedding last summer.
“When I think back to what happened and what I went through it’s still hard to believe.
“The prognosis is that I will probably recover the use of about 70 per cent of my arm which, although it’s 30 per cent less than what I used to have, could have been much, much worse.
“I still count myself lucky to be alive and when I look at my medical reports and it says 80 per cent of the circumference of my arm was severed it makes me realise how lucky I was.”
A man has been charged with attempting to murder Gary, but he is still in custody waiting for the case to reach a Spanish court.
Gary, a loyal Sheffield Wednesday season ticket holder, said: “The legal side of things seems to be a long, drawn-out process.
“I went back to Tenerife in March to see what I felt about the place after what happened to me and we decided to go back this New Year, but to a different resort and not to the bar where it happened.
“I think it would have brought back too many bad memories, although I will be seeing the manager of the bar as we have kept in touch over the year.”