April 25 2014 Latest news:
Friday, December 13, 2013
A soldier from south Norfolk has been praised by Prince Harry after he became the first double amputee to ski to the South Pole.
Duncan Slater from Diss, embarked on the Walking With the Wounded expedition on December 1 and the team arrived at the South Pole at midday today.
Sgt Slater was told by doctors that he would never walk again after being injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan where he served with the RAF regiment.
After his injury in 2009, Sgt Slater spent a year in a wheelchair before doctors told him he would need to have his legs amputated.
However, within six weeks he was making strides on his new prosthetic limbs and began training for the 209-mile challenge at the beginning of this year.
In a voice blog recorded on Wednesday Prince Harry, who has served two tours in Afghanistan, said that Sgt Slater, 34, “simply doesn’t find walking to the South Pole a big enough challenge, which is why he really enjoyed the race.
“I think everyone back home will appreciate the fact that just being able to walk 100km (62 miles) in these conditions with no legs is a pretty amazing feat in itself.”
Team UK, which is made up of Prince Harry and four injured British soldiers including Sgt Slater and former Light Dragoon Guy Disney, had ben due to race teams from Canada and the US, but the competitive element was called off because of “difficult terrain”.
Cpt Disney, who lost the lower part of his right leg in Afghanistan in 2009 when his Spartan armoured vehicle was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, now works for Walking with the Wounded.
Ed Parker from Melton Constable, who is the expedition’s director and co-founder of the Walking With The Wounded, said: “We always knew that this wasn’t going to be easy, but that is what makes the challenge so exciting.
“Our aim was to show that, despite injury, young men and women from our armed forces can still achieve great things.
“We came down here, determined to get 12 men and women, all injured in conflict, to the South Pole, and this is what we have done. The feeling is incredible.”
Speaking before he left, Sgt Slater said: “I volunteered to do this to show what amputees can do. It would be great to see more and more amputees reach the pole.
“Hopefully I won’t be the last, and if I get there and find out an easier way of doing it, then other people can follow in my footsteps and do it as well.”
Walking With the Wounded funds the re-training and re-education of wounded servicemen and women to help them find long-term employment after they have left the forces.