Amputee ex-soldier tells how Antarctic trek with Prince Harry saved him from suicide

Walking with the Wounded handout photo of (left to right) Ibrar Ali, Conrad Dickenson, Guy Disney, Richard Ire, Duncan Slater, Prince Harry and Kate Philp, of Team UK standing with the South Pole between them, as they and their fellow adventurers reach the pole, as part of their Walking With The Wounded charity trek. Walking with the Wounded handout photo of (left to right) Ibrar Ali, Conrad Dickenson, Guy Disney, Richard Ire, Duncan Slater, Prince Harry and Kate Philp, of Team UK standing with the South Pole between them, as they and their fellow adventurers reach the pole, as part of their Walking With The Wounded charity trek.

Andrew Fitchett andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk
Monday, March 17, 2014
12:35 PM

An amputee ex-soldier who lost both his legs in Afghanistan has said a charity expedition to the South Pole with Prince Harry helped him overcome suicidal thoughts.

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Sergeant Duncan Slater, 34, from Scole, took part in the Walking With the Wounded trek in December which saw three teams of wounded servicemen and women reach the South Pole after crossing 200km of Antarctic plateau.

That expedition is the subject of a two part documentary on ITV, Harry’s South Pole Heroes, which last night saw Sgt Slater describe the trauma and despair he suffered after he lost his legs in a bomb blast in 2009.

He said he felt he had let down his wife, Kim, and three-year-old daughter, Lily, by suffering the life-changing injuries.

“I felt I’d let people down the day I got blown up: I let my unit down, my family, friends and all the rest of it. I didn’t feel like I was adding value to my wife’s life, my child’s, I didn’t think I was being a particularly good dad.

“One night I had a really, really terrible turn, and I thought “I don’t like who I am any more”. I took myself away to a quiet spot and I just sat in a field for about two hours.

“It’s not a very nice feeling to hit rock bottom and say “right, I’m going to finish myself off”.

“It’s not the nicest thing to hear but I’m not the only person that’s done that and since then I’ve said “enough’s enough” and tried to, inch by inch, dig myself out and get on with it.

“When I got picked for the South Pole, in my head I said “this is it, this is the new start for me, this is the beginning I need to see if the old me is in there”,” he said.

Sgt Slater, a former RAF gunner, was joined by Prince Harry on the trek as part of Team Glenfiddich. The team represented the UK on the challenge, one of three teams in a race to the pole which included Team Soldier On (Commonwealth) and Team Noom Coach (US).

The gruelling 13 days on the ice and terrible weather conditions prompted expedition directors to remove the race element of the trek to ensure all three teams could join together and safely reach the South Pole.

Sgt Slater, who was told he may never walk again after losing his legs, became the first double amputee to ski to the South Pole.

What do you think of Sgt Slater’s story? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk to let us know.

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