WHEN Joy Collins turned up at the hospital, she only recognised her husband thanks to his eagle tattoo and wedding ring.
George, just 21 at the time, had been serving in Northern Ireland when his armoured vehicle was blown up by a 500lb landmine planted in the road.
He suffered severe head injuries in the blast on September 10, 1972, and should have been dead.
Miraculously he survived, but what was an even bigger miracle was his recovery, which he and Joy say is testament to Erskine veterans’ charity in Renfrewshire, which is celebrating its centenary year.
The young couple arrived at the home in 1974, with George in a wheelchair, suffering from brain damage and both of them scared of what the future held.
Today, they still live in a cottage on the estate and life is good. Now 65, George walks freely, has worked all his days, and has two daughters with Joy.
Joy said: “Erskine gave me my husband back and also looked after me, because I was just a young girl when I came in here. You don’t come here saying you can’t do. They don’t know those words – it’s can do in here.”
George and Joy met through a friend and married in December 1970. Unbeknown to her, he had already signed up to the Army.
“If I’d known I would have run a mile,” she admitted.
“When we got told he was going to Northern Ireland a second time, I immediately had an uneasy feeling.
“I was on the coach to work one morning and the person in front was reading the paper and I saw the headline. A cold shiver went through me.
“I was hardly in work 10 minutes when my mum turned up and before I knew it we were on a plane.”
Doctors said George’s brain had been shaken and he had brain damage.
“He was in a coma for nine or 10 months and came out of it very gradually,” Joy added.
When the couple came to Erskine, the physiotherapist told them he would get George back on his feet.
“I went from a wheelchair to a zimmer to two walking sticks, one walking stick then none,” George said proudly.
The couple tell their story in a new BBC documentary, Beyond The Battlefield: 100 Years Of Erskine.
Established at the height of the First World War to care for the thousands of injured soldiers returning from the front line, the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers, as it was originally known, has been caring for veterans ever since.
Other veterans to feature in the show include Bill McDowall, who served in the Falklands and is shown giving an emotional speech about Erskine at Glasgow Cathedral in front of Princess Anne, and former paratrooper Scott Meenagh, who lost his legs in a minefield in Helmand in 2011.
And 91-year-old Jimmy Groat, who served with the Navy during the Second World War, speaks poignantly about a friend he met in Erskine.
“When I came in here I met Nettie and we became great friends,” Jimmy said. “We ran about, played games, went to the recreation room and were in there singing and dancing.
“The last time Nettie was in the recreation room, the last song they sang was The Last Waltz.
“When it started she said, ‘will you take me up for the last waltz?’ I said yes and we had a wee dance and that was it, the last waltz. She died on April 2, so no dancing partner now.
“I miss her. I loved Nettie and she loved me. That’s my life with Nettie over but we’ll meet again someday. There’s still lots of things to do. Erskine is a great place to be.”
Beyond The Battlefield: 100 Years Of Erskine, BBC2 Scotland, Thursday, 9pm.