Sunday, April 6, 2014
A double amputee soldier, who lost both his legs after a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan, was touched to receive a standing ovation from Norwich City fans prior to the club’s home Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion.
Sgt Duncan Slater, 34, from Scole, took the match ball out prior to kick off in the crunch relegation battle and placed the ball on a stand for the players to collect when they ran out on to the pitch.
The Canaries had invited the Inverness-born serviceman to join them for the day and his biography was read out to the fans before he walked out on to the pitch to be met with the warm applause from the crowd of nearly 27,000.
He said: “It was nice, I was not expecting anything like that, so it was touching to receive a standing ovation.
“It was really touching that Norwich took an interest in me and invited me along for the day.”
Mr Slater was treated to a meal and was presented with a signed Ross County shirt, which Norwich staff had organised, reflecting his home town club in Scotland.
Unfortunately, the Canaries lost the match 1-0 and will now face a tough trip to fellow relegation battlers Fulham next Saturday, which could decide whether they stay in the Premier League.
The former RAF gunner rose to national fame after he became the first double amputee to trek to the South Pole with a team of other injured service personnel and Prince Harry.
It followed an emotional four-year recovery journey after his patrol vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated by an insurgent in Babaji, Helmand province, which propelled him 30ft away into a compound.
His wife Kim was five months pregnant with their daughter, Lilly, at the time.
Before that fateful day in 2009, Sgt Slater had given a decade of service to Queen and country, with tours of duty in Iraq and helping with the clear-up of Hurricane Katrina in the US.
In his joint Army, Navy and RAF role it was his job to help those wounded in action to get the medical attention they needed.
He was bed-bound for four months in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham and fought a year long battle to try and walk again at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Unit in Headley Court, Surrey.
But with the damage to his legs being too severe, Sgt Slater decided to have both his legs amputated so he could play a more active role in his newborn daughter’s life.
Since then he has gone from strength to strength, completing the trek to the South Pole – broadcast on ITV1 – and also training for this year’s London Marathon.
How important is it that Norwich City honours local heroes such as Mr Slater? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.