Badly injured Norfolk soldier speaks of his amazing trek to the North Pole

A Norfolk-based soldier, who had his leg amputated in Afghanistan, said he hoped his achievement of walking to the North Pole would demonstrate that 'life goes on', even after horrific injuries.

Captain Guy Disney, of the Swanton-Morley-based Light Dragoons, had his right leg removed below the knee after he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) in Afghanistan in 2009.

On Saturday afternoon, the 29-year-old arrived at the top of the world after hauling a 100kg (220lb) sled for more than 170 miles in 13 days with his six Walking With The Wounded team-mates.

Prince Harry, the patron of the charity, joined the team for their last days of training and the first four days of the trek.

Asked what motivated him to take part in the expedition, the officer in the Light Dragoons said: 'I think, for me, there were two reasons for doing it.

'One was the fundraising, but secondly to show that once you've had a bit of a knock, life goes on.

'You pick up the pieces and move forward with it, and not cry over spilt milk.''

Most Read

The charity aims to help wounded servicemen and women deal with their injuries, and make the most of their lives.

Capt Disney said: 'I think people are pretty good at doing that these days, especially the guys in the military.

'I know the guys coming back from Afghanistan at the moment will be fine.''

The trek is the first time a group of servicemen with such serious injuries, including two with amputated limbs, have reached the North Pole unaided.

The group had expected their expedition to take up to four weeks, so they completed the feat twice as quickly as they had planned.

Capt Disney, who now lives in London and the Cotswolds, attended Sandhurst in 2007.

His unit was ambushed while on patrol in Babaji in Afghanistan in July 2009, and during the fire-fight his right leg was pierced by an RPG that went through his vehicle.

The limb was amputated below the knee in Camp Bastion.

Despite his injury, the officer will go back to Afghanistan next April, and he said he is looking forward to it.

'This has taken up a huge part of my life,'' he said.

'But I'm a serving officer and it's time to crack on with the day job, which I'm looking forward to doing.''

Capt Disney described how it feels to have reached the top of the world.

'It's brilliant,'' he said.

'It's slightly surreal to be here. Only yesterday morning we were on top of the world, effectively.

'It was brilliant and a very special day.''

He also explained that the team was delayed at the start of the expedition because the temporary runway on the Arctic ice was not finished.

mf The horseracing enthusiast and former jockey said: 'Our first day on the ice was pretty hard going and we only covered about five or six miles.

'And I think we had a bit of a wobble, and we thought 'Christ, are we actually going to make this?'.

'And then we got into our stride and we started doing 10 to 12 miles a day and it just went from strength to strength.

'It was great. It was cold in the beginning - it got down to about minus 35C, minus 40C, and then it was actually quite warm towards the end.

'I think for us, none of us felt that we were going to get there until we were properly standing on top.

'The thought that this will be the first amputees, the first injured servicemen, to get to the North Pole, that dawned on us once we actually got there.

'And we found out as well that we were the longest expedition this year, which is a great thing to be able to say.

'It's been a long time coming, but it's definitely been worth it.''

Because of his injury, Capt Disney's physical efficiency on the trek was reduced by around 20% and he said his stump rubbed during the walk and it got quite sore towards the end.

The three other wounded men on the expedition sustained their life-changing injuries while fighting in Afghanistan.

Capt Hewitt, 30, from Widnes in Cheshire, was left with a paralysed right arm after being shot and Pte Van Gass, 24, from South Africa, had his left arm amputated and was left with significant tissue loss to his left leg when he was also hit by an RPG.

Sergeant Stephen Young, 28, from Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf, suffered a broken back after his vehicle was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED).

Simon Daglish, 45, and Ed Parker, also 45, the co-founders of the charity which aims to raise �2 million for other injured servicemen and women, completed the group led by Inge Solheim, 38, a polar expert.

Capt Disney said he is keen to do more adventurous challenges, and revealed he has discussed future plans with his team-mates.

He added: 'Martin and I have already spoken, and we'd love to do the South Pole. I'd absolutely love to.

'But I think I just have to get this fully out of the way and then see what's round the corner.''

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter