UK ex-marine, Colin Coppard, came to Thailand on his annual holiday. Stranded after April without money and with a severe dental medical emergency, the 50-year-old man was rescued from despair and deprivation by his former marine mates through a charitable association in the United Kingdom. However, just days later, in his modest Chiang Mai hotel bedroom, this fittest of men was struck down by a massive stroke that has now left him paralysed in hospital and barely able to speak.
The younger sister of a UK man, an ex-marine, lying in a hospital in Chiang Mai, partially paralysed and with a chunk of his left skull removed, is blaming both the Thai government and UK authorities particularly the Foreign Office after his planned for swift return to home in England was blocked in late August. The family say they fear that they will never see 50-year-old Colin Coppard alive again after he was left stranded in April when the borders of both countries closed and he then suffered a massive stroke in June.
A distraught family in the UK are fighting to get their loved one, an ex-marine who suffered a massive stroke in Thailand this June, back to them in London’s Battersea, safely.
Colin Coppard, who served 8 years in the Royal Marines with tours in Iraq and Northern Ireland, came to Thailand for his regular annual holiday in February.
Ex-soldier was a hired security contractor in South Africa to fend off wealthy poachers
The former soldier worked as a security contractor to fight against poaching in South Africa’s game reserves, often a target for wealthy hunters seeking trophies.
Colin loved Thailand and looked forward to his regular holidays in the kingdom as a way to unwind but also to learn and practice Buddhism.
Arrived in February but left stranded in April as his flight home was cancelled and the borders of the two kingdoms closed over Covid 19
Colin was in Chiang Mai when his plans to return to the UK in April went awry. The Covid 19 crisis saw his flight back to the UK cancelled and the borders of both countries closed.
The UK man’s funds quickly dried up and he was left without money to pay for food and accommodation for some time in the northern city.
UK Marines charity helped bail him out with cash and support just before his massive stroke
The marine appealed to a charity for former marine servicemen and was lucky to receive not only financial assistance but also moral support as he tried to find a way to survive without friends and resources in Thailand.
The UK veteran also had a severe dental problem which needed urgent treatment and left him in pain.
Some days after he received support from the charity, Colin suffered a massive stroke in his hotel accommodation.
He was found by hotel staff.
Bad news reached Battersea in London
The 50-year-old was hospitalised and doctors told his family that he would require emergency surgery including a craniotomy to stop bleeding inside the brain.
The news that reached the tight UK family in London was grim.
Colin’s father Bob and mother Brenda were devastated as the family gave the go-ahead to operate on him but pleaded with the surgeons to make sure he survived.
Along with his parents, waiting for him at home are his two brothers Billy and Bob and his sister Maxine as well as a niece, nephew and the extended Coppard family as well as friends.
Life was saved by a large part of his skull on the left-hand side being removed by doctors
Colin’s life was saved. But the doctors had to remove a large portion of the left side of his skull.
Colin is now thought to be permanently paralysed and can barely speak and communicate with his family at home.
Nonetheless, his family think he may yet recover if he can be brought back to the UK.
‘We do think he will speak and walk again. Colin is strong and determined,’ said Maxine Coppard on Saturday.
Negative PR over Thailand in the UK has left family worried for his safety alone in the country
His close family are in daily contact with him using internet apps and smartphones.
They have noticed an improvement in his ability to recognise them and to speak but he really can only say two words repeatedly and these are ‘Out’ and ‘Home’.
Consistently negative press about Thailand in the UK has also left the family worried about his safety.
Thailand has been the subject of intense negative publicity from UK tabloids in recent times highlighting stories of UK nationals who have died or been murdered in the kingdom.
In mid-August, the statute of limitations in Thailand expired on the murder of 23-year-old UK woman Kirsty Jones at a hostel in Chiang Mai over 20 years ago. It was a case, now closed, that has never been resolved.
There is a long catalogue of similar stories as well as a wider array of reports of UK nationals having life-changing accidents or suffering critical medical emergencies as in Colin’s story.
Story covered by the UK Mirror tabloid on Saturday
Since June, the family has raised over £31,000 online through a crowdfunding appeal to assist with Colin’s medical expenses and to repatriate him back to Thailand. His sister Maxine has been leading efforts to help her younger brother.
The mother of two spoke to the UK’s Mirror newspaper on Saturday, one of Britain’s biggest-selling newspapers and online news media outlets.
Maxine, in her interview with the Mirror’s reporters, put the situation in the starkest terms. ‘We are worried we’re not going to see him alive again,’ she said. ‘My main worry is that he will come to some sort of harm over there.’
Found UK man storing medication – fear suicide
The family are also worried as hospital staff in Chiang Mai have found Colin storing his medicines and believe that he may be planning to kill himself. The ex-soldier is a man who had always prided himself on his fitness.
On Saturday, his 82-year-old dad, Bob Coppard, told the Mirror that in the marines, his son’s nickname was ‘Lionheart’ but that he has always worried about his boy and described his torment at Colin’s current predicament.
‘It’s really heartbreaking seeing him. All my life I’ve worried about him. He did very well in the Army, but you still worry as a dad. When I look at him, with a bit of his skull gone, it’s just so difficult.’
Mr Coppard said that since first he heard the news in June, he has been living a big nightmare 24 hours a day.
Hoped he would return on August 21st – flight evacuation plan shot down by Thai authorities
Maxine has told Colin’s supporters that there were high hopes that her brother would return from Thailand through a medical evacuation flight on August 21st last but that it had been cancelled as it did not receive the appropriate permissions from the Thai government.
The Thai government’s Centre for Covid Situation Administration and other officials are in a state of heightened alert to prevent the Covid 19 virus returning to Thailand and all foreigners entering the kingdom only do so under strict conditions including 14 days quarantine.
Maxine Coppard is not happy with the UK government and is particularly critical of the Foreign Office at the help provided to her brother.
‘The UK Foreign Commonwealth Office is unable to do anything. A man who fought for his country, no one in power is fighting for him as it’s in the hands of the Thai government,’ she explained.