Meet Luke Marshall, the inspirational Mancunian with a lot to teach the world. On the 15th July 2012, life as he knew it changed forever when a drink driver sped into him on a country road in Lymm, Cheshire. He lost his right leg, but gained a whole new perspective.
Luke had just finished college, where he was on track for a career in gas and plumbing. He’d just passed his driving test, and had plans to move to Australia. One day, while driving home from college, he came across a girl who’d had a car accident and stopped to help her. Without warning, a drunk driver crashed into him.
“He crushed me, and took my leg off.”
But there’s even more to this story, as Luke tells us, “My mum was dying at the same time, and she’d always known how mad I was on clothes. She always used to tell me I should do something to do with fashion.”
Luke Marshall explains how he used to see career professionals who wanted to help him get back into the workplace after his accident – but admits he really struggled to find something new that intrigued him.
“I’ve always been a hands-on sort of guy, and once my mum passed away, I knew I needed to do something to make her proud, as well as myself. Most importantly, I wanted to inspire other people.”
“That’s where the inspiration comes from for my ‘Survival’ collection. I survived my accident. My mum had died but… through everything, I’m still here. No matter what you’ve done, no matter what’s happened to you, or what you look like, you can do anything.”
“At first, I used to hate going out with this leg. But now, I want to be on my own website with my leg out and everything. I want to style some of the looks with the jeans rolled up so you can see the bionic leg – just to tell people that you can still do whatever you want to do. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost an arm or whatever; you can still be whoever you want to be”
During his physio sessions, Luke met Vicky Balch, who tragically lost her leg at an Alton Towers accident. Explaining that there were people at his physio who wouldn’t go out anymore, Luke dropped a load of his new collection off at the centre, and told them, “This is on me, get your chin up.”
“I had conversations with some of the others who had lost their arms or legs. Thing is, you have to realise; this is you from now on. No-one else can change what happened. If there’s any negativity in your life – cut it out. From now on, you’ve just got to go forward, forward, forward.”
“They always say you’ll take two steps back and then later you’ll go five forward. I’m at a place now where I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love this leg. Apart from the back pain, I actually do love it.”
Embracing of this new stage in his life, Luke Marshall can’t wait to launch his next collection. “I’m so excited about MCR Fashion Festival too, but it’s not only going to be great exposure for the brand, but I think it’ll be good for other people to see what can be done if you put your mind to it. The other main thing is, I want to do this for my mum. Even though it should be for me first, it’s for her. She never saw me do good in the workplace, so I want to do her proud.”
Laura and Lisa of Real PR and the masterminds behind MCRFF feel passionately about their Rising Stars, “It’s actually one of the main reasons why we started the festival. It’s to create a platform for people in Manchester so they can showcase in their own hometown.”
“With the festival taking place at Cloud 23 this year, MCR Fashion Festival is going to be even bigger, so more people can attend.”
We also met with Bhavna Limbachia, one of the MCRFF ambassadors, “Luke Marshall is the perfect example of what MCR Fashion Festival is all about. Just like in fashion and in Manchester, it’s non-judgemental, it’s not exclusive – it has this community feel. We celebrate diversity, equality, and this has definitely inspired Manchester and the strong fashion scene we have.”
“We want to celebrate the strong fashion history we have in this city, but also the amazing ecommerce scene, and the businesses who have come out of Manchester and gone global.”