'I wanted to give up': Burns survivor's gift to Morriston Hospital ward that helped him recover

Stuart Cooper has written almost 200 poems, largely inspired by the ‘Angels of Morriston’ who have helped him on his challenging journey.  Credit: Swansea Bay University Health Board

A father who spent six weeks in a coma after suffering life-threatening injuries in an explosion at his home has found a way to thank those who helped him.

In 2019, Stuart Cooper, 47, was airlifted to Morriston Hospital in Swansea after a fire at his home left him with 66% burns to his body.

The father-of-four remembers little of the fire at his home in Cowlas, near Penzance, which is believed to have been caused by a gas heater.

“I am still piecing things together," he said.

"Because I went to bed one night and woke up on fire, and two months later I came round in hospital in Wales."

A second art collaboration by Suzie and Stuart is currently being created for Powys ward. Credit: Swansea Bay University Health Board.

His condition so serious, his family began preparing for the worst.

“I wasn’t meant to wake-up," he said.

"My oldest son was sent home from hospital one day to tell my three other children I would not make it. I eventually came round from my coma.

"I only weighed 41 kilos and I had to work with the physios to learn to do everything again. 

“I went through some very dark periods and wanted to give up. But I promised I would not do it, mainly for my children, and I will not break my word.” 

Before his accident, Mr Cooper worked as a courier for a small independent firm, which meant he travelled all over the country. But his injuries mean he has had to abandon employment. 

“I genuinely loved my job because no two days were the same,” he said. 

“I had a lot of freedom and didn’t have a boss in my ear all the time. I worked 16 hours a day, six days a week, and would have worked more if I was allowed. 

To help him through the dark times following his traumatic experience, he began writing poetry.

He said: “Stuck in a hospital bed I didn’t know what to do, until one of the nurses suggested I start to write.

"I hadn’t done anything much like that since school, when I’d write limericks about teachers. 

“I didn’t know what to write about, so nurses started giving me different topics to write about and I’d write something and hand it over to them like a stroppy teen. 

“They were so good to me the only way I can describe them is angels, and then a friend of mine suggested I write about them.”

The friend was artist Suzie Phillips, who got to know Mr Cooper during his time working as a courier, when he used to visit her at home to deliver items.

Stuart was airlifted to Morriston’s burns centre in October 2019. Credit: Swansea Bay University Health Board.

She said: “When Stuart was in hospital in Wales I said to him ‘you call the nurses angels, why don’t you do something to help them see what they mean to you’. 

“Why don’t you write something that will inspire them, perhaps after they’ve had a long or traumatic shift, and let them know they are respected and thought about.”  

Mr Cooper has since written almost 200 poems, largely inspired by the ‘Angels of Morriston’ who have helped him on his challenging journey. 

Taking inspiration from his words, Ms Phillips created a series of artworks and images with an NHS angel design, which she hand-painted onto glass, then fused in her kiln. 

This collaborative artwork was recently delivered to the Tempest ward at Morriston Hospital, where they were welcomed and put on display by some of the staff who have cared for Mr Cooper.

Mr Cooper added: “I get no real joy out of it – it bores the heck out of me, but people seem to like it and it is a way to deal with what is inside me.

“I posted some on Facebook and the response was overwhelming. I have been contacted by an author who wanted me to tell ‘my story’. 

“I just hope I’ve done justice to everyone who helped me at Morriston. I just want every person I've written about, acknowledged and to know they are appreciated for being relentlessly caring.”