Tanilba Bay grandmother praises men at Pauls Corner who ensured she made it to the John Hunter Hospital in time

BLESSED: Grant Hopper believes his wife Emma wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the help of two strangers. Mrs Hopper said "they were like guardian angels". Picture: Sam Norris
BLESSED: Grant Hopper believes his wife Emma wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the help of two strangers. Mrs Hopper said "they were like guardian angels". Picture: Sam Norris

Two unknown men who helped changed a flat tyre at Salt Ash are said to have saved Emma Hopper's life.

The Tanilba Bay grandmother had woken with a bad headache and vomiting on June 11,  and was soon on the road to hospital with her husband, Grant Hopper.

Despite his caution their blue Volkswagen struck a pothole on Lemon Tree Passage Road which forced Mr Hopper to pull into the service station at Pauls Corner.

"The doctors told me later that day that if we had been 10 minutes later, it would have been a very different outcome," he said.

In the service station car park Mr Hopper noticed two men in the late 20s or early 30s.

"These two men were looking at us, they had four-wheel-drive utes with bikes on the back," Mr Hopper said.

"I asked, 'would you mind helping me'?

"It would have taken me half an hour but it only took him five minutes."

Mrs Hopper had recently undergone radiation therapy for an in-operable brain tumor at the base of her brain, near the carotid artery and optic nerve.

A second tumour had also been removed from behind her nose and little did they know there had been a complication that had led to bacterial meningitis.

"We jumped the queue at the John Hunter, they put her straight into a bed," Mr Hopper said.

"She was delirious, she didn't know her own name."

Mrs Hopper would spend the next 11 days in hospital on broad spectrum antibiotics where Mr Hopper remained at her side.

"It was only later I thought, 'I wish I could tell them, what he had done, changing the tyre," Mr Hopper said.

"It all happened so quick we didn't even exchange names."

Another two weeks has past since Mrs Hopper returned home with regular nurse home-visits.

Being immunocompromised, she often wears a face mask and the couple keeps anti-bacterial hand wash close to hand.

It's given Mrs Hopper further opportunity to reflect on the events of that morning.

Between his distress and her fever their best guess is they set out between 7am and 9am on June 11.

"I don't remember anything of that morning, I was throwing up in the car," she said.

"But he's saved my life, they were like guardian angels.

"I'm also thankful for my darling husband, without him, I wouldn't be here either."

The couple has five children between the ages 22 and 37, as well as three grandchildren.

Mrs Hopper was first diagnosed with meningioma in 2002 when they lived in Tamworth.

Surgeons then removed the baseball-sized tumour that at the time was said to have been the biggest excision a patient had survived at the John Hunter Hospital.

An MRI in 2010 found the latest tumours. They moved to Tanilba Bay in May where they aim to make the most of life.

"It's beautiful here," Mrs Hopper said.

"We love it."