How a tragic accident helped this couple find each other

Kristine Tarbert
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

Chris and Jenny might have met during tragic circumstances, but looking back now, the couple, that has been married for 14 years, wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was December 2000 when Chris Nicholls was in an accident that left him a paraplegic. He had been riding his motorbike in the Sydney CBD when he was hit from behind and crushed by a truck.

Chris spent the following eight months at the Prince of Wales Hospital in acute spinal rehab. But it was here he met his Occupational Therapist Jenny, who would later become his wife and mother to his children.

Although, understandably, an angry, depressed and demanding Chris didn’t leave the best first impression on Jenny.

“Excuse my French but Jen thought I was a complete d***head,” Chris tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

From hospital to finding his love. Photo: Supplied

“We got a phone call that this new patient was demanding a bedside meeting with his team,” Jenny adds.

But Chris quickly explains that because he was from a business background of project management, his mind straight away wanted to ‘solve’ the problem of his injury, which made him ask hospital staff set up chairs around his bed and organise a meeting with his lawyers, therapists, physio, and doctors.

Chris was in a motorbike accident in 2000. Photo: Supplied

“I can remember standing there thinking, who does this guy think he is,” Jenny admits. “But at the same time there was respect and maybe a bit of admiration there because he was so determined.”

It wasn’t until Chris had ‘graduated’ from hospital, that he and Jenny started playing wheelchair basketball together each week and formed an obvious connection and attraction that evolved.

The pair bonded playing wheelchair basketball together. Photo: Supplied

“Jen and I became good friends but we didn’t get together until a few years after I left hospital,” Chris says, explaining that at the time of the accident he was with another woman, who was also involved in the crash, but things didn’t work out.

“I noticed Jen just put the needs of her clients first. It could be something so small and it meant the world to us. It was that attention to detail and that understanding that was huge. Plus she was hot.”

Jenny says her and Chris could talk for ages.

“I loved talking to Chris and I think that was the first sign I thought there was something there,” she tells us.

A year later, Chris and Jenny were engaged and they married the next year.

They married in 2005.Photo: Supplied

Over the last decade, the couple have built their specially designed house and now share four children together – Josh, 11, Zach, eight, and twins Charlotte and Samuel, six.

Jenny continues to work part-time at the Prince of Wales Hospital, and Chris works as General Manager at a new Med/Assistive Tech company, loop+.

Together they also started their own Occupational Therapy and Access Consultancy Company, Total Access. Chris is also a Board Director for both Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and Wheelchair Sports NSW – keeping them very busy.

Chris says “joining forces” with Jenny was almost a no-brainer, and the couple work extremely well together.

Now the couple have four children. Photo: Supplied

“There is no doubt we have arguments from time to time as a couple in our personal life, but we really work well in business,” he says. “And it’s very much a teamwork effort. We always laugh actually, when we designed our own house, for example, the only argument we ever had from the whole house was what type of washing line we would have.”

While the circumstances of the accident were horrific, both Chris and Jenny have gained so much since that day back in 2000.

“My life has completely changed from a disability point of view, but some of the things that I have done I never would have been able to do if I wasn’t in this world,” Chris says.

“Before Chris and I were together I just used to work in the industry,” Jenny adds. “But now I live in it and it has definitely opened my eyes and my ability to treat people with injury has improved a lot. I have that personal connection.”

Support the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation to help raise funds to purchase new equipment by donating here.

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