A FORMER pub landlord who lost all his limbs to an infection and toxic shock has told how he would not to turn back the clock.

Alex Lewis, who was given a three per cent chance of survival when he was taken ill in 2013, said: “If you said to me ‘Alex, I can get your legs and arms back tomorrow – would you take them?’, I’d say no.”

Mr Lewis spoke at an event for business leaders hosted at Southampton City Art Gallery by law firm Paris Smith.

“In 2013, I thought I had the best life. I had a wonderful two-and-a-half year old lad and was a stay-at-home father. The time we spent with each other was just beautiful,” he said.

The Stockbridge resident told how what he thought was a case of “man flu” had suddenly turned life-threatening. His wife Lucy called an ambulance and he was rushed to Winchester Hospital in critical condition. Doctors said the infection Strep A, combined with his cold, had caused toxic shock syndrome.

“After three days, they gave me a three per cent chance of survival,” he said.

“The anaesthetist said to Lucy and my mum ‘I really don’t think he’ll survive this third night. We can wake him medically in the morning and you’ll need to say your final goodbyes’.

“I can’t imagine what my mum must have gone through that night to think of the words she was going to say to me in that final moment.”

He was later moved from Winchester to Salisbury, where he underwent three amputations.

He said the worst part was the reaction of his son Sam. “I remember the double doors opened and he recoiled in horror at what he saw. He was so frightened he wouldn’t come anywhere near me,” he said.

Mr Lewis was originally left with his right arm, but it was amputated after another infection. Attempts to reconstruct his disfigured face left him despondent.

It was Chris Martin, frontman of the band Coldplay, who recommended a life-changing book, Man’s Search for Meaning, by concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl.

Since then, he has been helping others by fundraising for hospitals and for supplying wheelchairs to amputees in Ethiopia.

Mr Lewis, who was a heavy drinker when he worked as a publican, said donating his time to others was “the most richly rewarding work could ever do”.

He added: “I would never have stayed with Lucy in all honesty if I had kept drinking. The relationship with my son would not have been as good as it is now.

“I’m an incredibly fortunate young man and I love every single minute of my life.”

He added: “I would never have dreamed of being in this position six years ago and the only reason I’m here is because I’ve said yes to everything.”

The event also heard from Sir Tim Boughton, former army officer and commando pilot, who went on to found the Eleos Partnership, which promotes mental health and mindfulness.

He told of his own experience of anxiety and panic after leaving the forces and going to work in financial services. It led him to the point of stepping in front of an express train.

He said: “I got a tap on the shoulder. It was a volunteer from the Samaritans. She said to me, ‘Don’t do it. I know what you’re going to do, don’t go here’.”

He added: “What I learned from my journey is that there’s a very positive message that can be spun around mental health. It doesn’t define you as a bad person. It can make you a better person. It can take you to a place where you you’re much better than you would have bene otherwise.”

Peter Taylor, managing partner at Paris Smith, said of the speakers: “There are times in your life when you will be in the company of people and you leave them and think ‘I’m a much better person for having spent time with that person’.”

He told how leaders in business increasingly had to show emotional intelligence and realise when people were under stress. “Showing vulnerability and being empathic is all part of the practice of leadership,” he said.