All the proceeds of the Run Lytham race, to be held on Sunday 26th April will go to the ABF Soldiers Charity, a charity which assists in the recovery and rehabilitation of injured war heroes just like injured Rifleman Craig Wood.
Craig joined the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles when he was 17 and undertook his basic training at Catterick Barracks in North Yorkshire. He was too young to immediately travel with his troop when they were posted to Afghanistan but then joined them three days after his 18th birthday. Twelve weeks later on the 30th July 2009, when out on patrol in Helmand Province, a wire controlled road side bomb exploded.
Craig tells us his story;
“I remember the section stopping for some water before carrying on. I had gone about 10 feet when suddenly there was a white flash and the feeling that something had hit me.”
Craig remained conscious. “All I remember was the flash and the next thing I was sitting on the ground with my mates running towards me,” he recalled. “I was the only one injured. The nearest soldier to me was about 10feet away but he was okay. Amazingly, there was no pain but I was dazed. I knew I’d been hit but obviously I didn’t know how badly.”
“As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I kept having some sort of nightmare where my hands and legs had been chopped off.” Craig had lost both legs, his left forearm and suffered major facial injuries. He was the youngest soldier to be injured in Afghanistan.
He was taken to Camp Bastion; then the next day flown back to Selly Oak Hospital and kept in a medically induced coma for 10 days. He lost 27 pints of blood and was given only a 50% chance of survival. His bullet-proof breast plate almost certainly saved his life and he was only one of three triple amputees to survive their injuries and drastic surgery.
Craig spent 15 weeks in Selly Oak Hospital then two weeks at home. He said: “It was overwhelming and hard at first but I had to get on and accept that this is how I am now. My family were very upset but they have been amazing and have supported me every day.” The next stage for Craig was beginning the long rehabilitation process at Headley Court where he was fitted for prosthetic limbs and learnt to walk again. “I think Headley is great. There’s so much camaraderie which really helps. They teach you how to walk on your prosthetic legs which gave me a real sense of achievement.”
It was at Headley Court that Craig met the Duchess of Cornwall on a trip to mark the launch of the Poppy Day appeal. Camilla told him his determination to recover and return to a job was “inspiring”. Craig recently completed a three day cycle ride from Surrey to Paris to raise money for children with special needs and was awarded with a Yorkshire Special Award for his “outstanding” achievement.
The soldier also has a passion for sailing and is now focusing on becoming part of the 2016 Paralympics team in Brazil. He said: “It would be a massive sense of awe being in the Paralympics; it would be amazing to represent my country.”
St George’s Day Festival backer David Haythornthwaite added “We were delighted to support Craig in his desire to travel to Hawaii to meet his sailing hero Robbie Nash in Hawaii and also fund the sails he needs as part of his Paralympic preparation. I’m proud that we have the opportunity to work with a deeply impressive young man and also help with some practical support, such as a new kitchen at home to enable him to live as independently as possible. None of this would be possible without the support of the people of Lytham and the money raised from the St George’s Day Festival”
Major General Martin Rutledge, the Chief Executive of The Soldiers’ Charity added;
“The British Army has played a major role in our history and even today they remain involved in a high tempo of operations. There is always a price to pay for such duty and service which the nation enjoys. We at The Soldiers Charity give lifetime support to serving and retiring soldiers and their families. They risk so much for us, but for them, it’s just ‘doing their job’. In return, we give down to earth help and friendship, with no hassle or bureaucracy. That’s what we’ve been here to offer for 67 years. The example of soldiers such as Craig Wood inspires us on a daily basis to do as much as we can to support them.”