‘Proudest day of my life’ for hero who tackled thug armed with sword

Gary Wainwright with his daughter Leanne,at her wedding at st Mar'ys Church,Ecclesfield
Gary Wainwright with his daughter Leanne,at her wedding at st Mar'ys Church,Ecclesfield
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WEDDING bells rang out as a hero Sheffield dad walked his daughter up the aisle months after nearly losing his arm in a terrifying sword attack on holiday.

Gary Wainwright, aged 53, from Wadsley Bridge, proudly gave away his daughter Leanne, 29, as she tied the knot with childhood sweetheart Paul Clark at St Mary’s Church, Ecclesfield.

The boiler salesman and cafe owner had his arm broken in four places and suffered severe nerve and muscle damage when he fended off a man wielding a three-foot Samurai sword in a bar in Tenerife on New Year’s Day.

He was cut repeatedly across the forearm as he used a chair to defend himself while other customers, including women and children, escaped.

After the attack, dad-of-one Gary needed 178 stitches and an operation on the Spanish island, followed by further surgery in Sheffield, and still needs physiotherapy three times a week along with a daily dose of painkillers.

Gary said the wedding was ‘a fantastic day from beginning to end’.

“It was the proudest day of my life,” he said.

“In the dark days, in January and February when I was really ill, it was the thought of the wedding day that kept me going.”

Leanne lives with Paul, a window fitter, on Margetson Crescent in Parson Cross, and is manager of the Sheffield branch of teaching recruitment agency Vision For Education. The couple have been together since they were 16, having met at Chaucer School.

“They’re fantastic together, always having a laugh and a joke. They get on really, really well,” Gary said.

“They’re devoted to each other.”

The service at St Mary’s was attended by 90 guests, while 300 revellers toasted the happy couple during the reception at the Kenwood Hall Hotel, which featured live music from funk and soul band Highway Child.

Gary said the wedding has provided ‘a bit of closure’ to this year’s events, and that he is also facing his fourth and final operation in February.

“It’s absolutely very satisfying. I’ve got one more operation to come, and they’ve promised me that that’s going to be the last one. The wedding, coupled with the knowledge that it’s going to be last operation, gives me a bit of closure, certainly.”

The operation will hopefully result in Gary regaining the use of his left thumb.

“The ligament that works my thumb was severed completely - the thumb doesn’t work, it just hangs there. The operation’s called a ligament transfer. They will take a ligament from another finger and graft it into where the severed ligament was,” he explained.

“The prognosis the consultant gave me is that I’m possibly going to get 60 per cent of the use of my left arm back again. It’s a question of whether you see the glass as half-full or half-empty!”

Spanish detectives charged a man with attempted murder around two weeks after the attack in The Britannia Inn, at coastal resort Playa Paraiso on the west coast of Tenerife. Gary, co-owner of the Java Lounge coffee shop in Hillsborough, was on a break with friends and relatives when the incident happened.

Gary said his solicitors have told him the suspect is still remanded in custody and is likely to appear in court again in October.