Mindy Hammond has revealed how she worried her husband may not be the same man she married after his accident – then he didn’t even know who she was.
Richard Hammond suffered a brain injury so bad he didn’t even recognise his own wife.
The star was hurt in a terrible crash when his car spun out of control while he was filming Top Gear in 2006, and Mindy, who had married him four years earlier, didn’t know how serious it was as she rushed to the hospital to be by his side.
Mindy said she worried that Richard may never walk or talk again, or be able to care for their daughters – then six and three – the way he always had.
And when she finally got to the hospital, she realised how bad things truly were, when Richard looked at her like she was a complete stranger.
Richard didn’t recognise Mindy at all, and thought he was married to a French woman.
Mindy told The Telegraph : “It was disconcertaing when, early after the crash, Richard looked at me from his hospital bed and said, ‘You’re lovely, but you’re not my wife’.
“When I corrected him, he responded, ‘No, you’re not my wife, my wife is French’. Indeed, when he was allowed home five weeks later, it became clear that Richard’s memory loss was no short-term affliction.”
Mindy says her husband didn’t seem capable of retaining any information for more than 10 seconds.
She said he’d read the same page of the newspaper over and over again and that his conversations would go round in circles as he repeated the same sentences.
Richard’s personality also changed, Mindy says, with him becoming prone to mood swings and depression.
Richard, 49, shares daughters Willow and Isabella with Mindy, 53, who says things got really bad one day when her husband told her to take their children and leave.
She said: “Richard turned to me and said, ‘Get the girls and get out of the house now’. I told him to relax, but he said, ‘No, just get out’.
“He could feel the anger welling up, and was afraid that he might not be able to control himself. It must have been utterly terrifying for him.”
Mindy says her husband’s brain injury did affect their marriage but that she was always careful not to tell him that he loved her or to pressure him into thinking so.
She knew his brain had to “reset” after the injury, but that she’d accepted it would be his choice if he decided he no longer wanted their marriage to continue.
Mindy says she and Richard rekindled their romance from the moment he woke up in hospital, falling in love all over again, but that of course, it didn’t come without its ups and downs.
Thankfully, Richard recovered from the accident, and Mindy believes that in some ways, he’s a better person now.
She says he’s become “more patient” and “self-aware” and that he now finds it much easier to concentrate on a task.
Mind says they were “lucky” and that the terrible events eventually made them “stronger”.