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Former Dereham RAF gunner seeks compensation after cycle crash ends his career

PUBLISHED: 10:13 10 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:14 10 October 2015

Joshua Wetherall during a tour in Afghanistan.

Joshua Wetherall during a tour in Afghanistan.

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A promising military career was left in tatters after an airman was knocked off his bike during a charity cycle ride.

Joshua Wetherall on his bike in France.Joshua Wetherall on his bike in France.

Now former RAF gunner Joshua Wetherall is seeking compensation after being forced to give up on his life-long ambition due to his injuries.

Mr Wetherall was taking part in the Help for Heroes fundraiser in France when he was hit from behind by a car and sent sprawling into the road.

The 26-year-old, who served in Afghanistan, suffered multiple fractures to his neck, knee, hip and elbow and had to spend months in hospital.

He eventually went back to work, but struggled to keep up with the gruelling physical regime and recently made the difficult decision to quit the military for good.

Mr Wetherall, from Dereham, started out as an RAF cadet before following in his father’s footsteps and joining up in 2009.

Based at RAF Honington in Bury St Edmunds, he was considered one of the strongest members of his squadron and said he had high hopes of rising through the ranks.

He said: “I had always wanted a long-term career in the RAF and had no intention of leaving.

“Before the accident, I had considered specialising by being in the SAS.

“It’s difficult to contemplate a life outside it, but it became a huge struggle to maintain my fitness.

“I used to be able to do 100 push-ups with relative ease, but now struggle to do 20.

“As a member of the RAF, physical fitness is extremely important and while they did everything to help me, it is not an environment where you can be at half pace.

“You are putting your life in your colleagues’ hands and you are asking them to trust you with their life.”

Mr Wetherall, an experienced cyclist who was with a friend when the accident happened in April 2011, said he had also left him with memory problems and mood swings.

He suffers from arthritis and still has issues with his elbow and knee – but refuses to let it get him down.

He said: “Osteoarthritis has set in and I experience pain on a daily basis.

“It is frustrating when I think about how fit I used to be, but I try not to let it eat me up.

“You have to think about what you’ve got, not what you haven’t got, and at least I am still alive.”

Mr Wetherall is taking civil action against the driver who has accepted liability for the injuries.

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