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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Cumbrian couple sharing lessons they learned from brush with death

It's easy enough to spot where Peter Fisher lives in Corby Hill. Just look for the milestone marking 471 miles to Land’s End.

Peter Fisher photo
Peter and Pam Fisher at their Corby Hill home

The sign stands outside a bungalow called Maytyme, its front garden crowded with wood and stone figures. Children, musicians and a mermaid are surrounded by greenery and uplifting slogans.

Each one has been hand-carved by Peter, 66, in the three years since he lived through a major heart operation. Near the open front gate, a sandstone slab lays out his philosophy. “Every day is a bonus,” it says.

The garden is a haven for neighbours and cyclists, who often stop by and enjoy it.

For Peter and wife Pam, 62, it’s a chance to share the lessons they learned from his brush with death.

“I get quite a lot of people in,” said Peter. “They find it very relaxing, because they get a cup of tea and I’ve sayings all around the place, different poems and verses.

“Folk can be in here for ages because there is stuff to see round every corner.”

Having worked on the highways for more than 40 years, Peter was forced to retire after treatment for leaking heart valves. Despite the best efforts of Newcastle surgeons, he was left with a hole in his heart.

After three weeks in hospital, he got home and threw himself into his hobbies.

“The artistic thing runs in my family,” he said. “My grandfather was a master joiner and left me his tools, and my other relations were stonemasons and bricklayers.”

His carvings were inspired by visits to York Minster and the ornate St Mary’s Church at Wreay. And after the emotional trauma of his illness, making things gave him a new sense of purpose. He also enjoyed working for
the community, mowing the village green and looking after sick neighbours.

Peter said: “I look at the way the village has looked after me in the past – it’s provided me with three son-in-laws, an education, a doctor. So I just try and put a little bit back into it.

“I was never religious but everything I do now I feel like there’s something looking after us.”

The grandfather-of-six said he would think about opening his garden to the public, were he not still relatively frail. He is due to return to hospital in a few months time.

In the meantime, he’ll do his best to live up to a sign in his garden - “A little piece of heaven here on earth.”

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