It wasn’t long ago when Joshua Brockbank would watch repeats of his favourite TV show without remembering ever seeing the episodes before.
Short-term memory loss is one of the side effects of a near-fatal motorbike accident which almost claimed Joshua’s life in January 2008, and is something he’s still battling with now.
Surprising, his love of cars and Top Gear is also the reason behind the 24-year-old’s determination to rebuild his life, and six years after the incident, his memory is gradually improving.
Joshua, of Lowther Crescent, said: “Before the accident I was a mechanic and I’d left school early to get a work placement.
“I went back to get my GCSEs but I was always mechanically minded. After the crash it was really the only thing I could remember how to do.
“It was only really earlier this year that I decided it was time to sort my life out, so me and my dad have been working on a car in the garage, and it’s slowly helping to improve my memory.”
His dad Ian, who Joshua lives with, said: “At first, Josh would watch Top Gear every day like he’d never seen it before; like it was a brand new programme.
“But over the past 12 months he’s starting to recognise that he’s seen the episodes before.
“He used to go to the shop and forget what he was going for, even if it was just for two or three things.
“I had to give him a list, but now he can do it without help. He can just about remember three things.”
Joshua was just 18 when the motorbike he was riding collided with a taxi on Leyland Lane.
He spent more than a month in the intensive care unit at Royal Preston Hospital, and it was weeks before he could open his eyes or communicate with anyone.
He had to have a tracheotomy, a tube through his neck, to help him breathe, which has left a scar.
Ian thought he wasn’t going to make it through the night at one point.
“They said they might have to turn off his life support machine,” he said. “He got pneumonia, and they said that the chances were, if he did wake up in the morning, he would be like a cabbage.
“But when he woke up, I could tell he knew I was there.
“He knew what was going on, and the staff said if we could get him to stick his tongue out, that would be a sign that he was doing ok.
“We brought this girl in to see him who he fancied at the time, and told him she would give him a kiss if he could stick his tongue out.
“I’ve never seen anyone try so hard to stick their tongue out! He did it though, and he got the kiss.”
After that, Joshua spent two months in a brain rehabilitation unit, and had to wear a neck brace for six months.
He had a badly bruised brain and a broken thigh, so had to work hard to learn to walk properly again.
Joshua said: “In hospital, they kept telling me not to walk, but I really wanted to.
“I pushed myself to stand up and used to push my wheelchair to help me walk.
“It’s mainly the memory loss which affects me now. It’s horrible to be honest, not being able to remember little things, and I can’t remember the six months leading up to the accident.”
He admits he was hanging out with the wrong kind of people before the life-changing incident, which involved a stolen motorbike and happened at around 2am on a Saturday morning.
But it has encouraged him to change his ways.
“I know how lucky I am to be alive, and I just want to get on with things now,” he said.
“I want to be able to drive, and I’ve taken my theory test a couple of times, but I haven’t passed it yet.
“I go to the library in Leyland almost every day to practice, so I’ll keep trying.
“I also go out with my dad’s friend who fixes up cars, so that gives me something to do, as well as the car I’m working on at home.”
Ian, who works as a taxi driver, added: “I’ve been pushing him to work on his car at home and it is helping. It’s just a hobby now but we’re hoping he can build it up into a little business one day.
“He comes home from being out with my mate all day and he’s straight into the garage to work on the car.
“I am really proud of him. He almost died, so he must be strong to overcome all of that.
“I look at him and think he’s lucky to be here.
“Not many people get a second chance at life like that.”