THOMAS Rafferty should have died three years ago when he fell from the top of his van and fractured his skull, broke his neck and jaw and ripped his ear off.

Paramedics even phoned the John Radcliffe Hospital from the ambulance to let them know the builder would be dead by the time he arrived.

But next month, the miracle man from Witney will take on the five-mile OX5 Run at Blenheim Palace in aid of the children's hospital at the JR site to say thank you to the nurses and emergency services who saved his life.

The 59-year-old said: "I should have died, I was expected to die at the scene and then the nurses called ahead to say I would die in transportation to the hospital.

"I had a second bleed on the brain a few days later and was still given a 50/50 chance.

"I believe that, for whatever reason, I wasn't meant to die on that day - it was fate."

He added: "My sons thought I would be paralysed even if I did live so they can't believe I'm doing the OX5 and my wife Coral is the biggest reason I have recovered like I have - her support has been amazing."

The self-employed builder was unloading fencing panels from the roof of his van in April 2014 when he slipped and fell eight foot onto his head, ripping his ear on the wing mirror on his way down.

The father-of-three spent four weeks in intensive care and was given 24/7 care by the team of nurses, doctors and consultants at the hospital.

He has no recollection of the incident itself or the next three weeks of his life but has since been told of the heroic actions of firefighters, first on the scene.

He said: "Two on-call firefighters from around the corner at Witney fire station were there first.

"When I came around apparently I was being very aggressive and they had been given trauma training to spot that this could be a sign of bleeding on the brain and called the ambulance immediately while treating me there.

As fate would have it he bumped into his two mystery lifesavers in a pub in Witney just before Christmas.

Mr Rafferty, who now works in maintenance at St Clare's College in Oxford, said: "It was incredible to see them but also very upsetting, it was great to be able to see them and thank them as they obviously played a huge part in saving my life.

"They came up to me in a pub and said 'excuse me are you Mr and Mrs Rafferty?' and then explained who they were and that they recognised me - again I think that was fate, we changed our plans to go to that pub at the last minute."

His remarkable recovery left him wanting to do whatever he could to raise money for the hospital and last year his son Christopher did the OX5 Run - leading Thomas to commit to signing up this year.

He said: "I just want to do what I can and hopefully raise a minimum of £1,000 and maybe I will inspire other people who knows.

"If I can do it at the age of 59 and after everything I have been through then anyone can.

"If my heart or my lungs or my eyesight doesn't give up on me I will get round the course - even if it takes me two days."