Soldier Stories

LT Col James Senior The Light Dragoons Commanding Officer - Brief bio

Lieutenant Colonel James Senior was commissioned in December 1996, joining The Kingís Royal Hussars immediately thereafter in Munster, Germany. Following operational tours in Bosnia and then twice in Kosovo (as a troop leader and then Aide-de-Camp to Commander British Forces), he returned via the Army Junior Division to Regimental Duty as Adjutant. This period included operational tours in Northern Ireland and Iraq.

On promotion to major and following a tour in MOD Whitehall, Lieutenant Colonel Senior commanded a squadron of The Second Royal Tank Regiment before a further staff tour, this time in MS Senior Officers in the Army Personnel Centre. In 2011 he deployed to Afghanistan as a Campaign Planner in CJ5 HQ ISAF in Kabul.

Lieutenant Colonel Senior attended ACSC 16 before a brief stint as SO1 Delivery in the Mounted Close Combat pillar of Capability Directorate Combat, Army Headquarters. He assumed command of The Light Dragoons in January 2014.

In August 2002 Lieutenant Colonel Senior married Victoria, and between them they have three boys, twins Oliver and William (nine), and Frederick (seven). In addition, the family has just been joined by Smudge, a six months old Springer Spaniel. In what spare time remains, he enjoys endurance running and in recent years he has completed several marathons, including the Dead Sea Ultra Marathon in Jordan and the Great Wall of China Marathon.

A thank you from Gemma and Corporal Alan Fernandez

We would like to thank everyone involved in helping getting our house into a livable state. It's been a hard few years for my family and I, we are truly grateful for everything that has been done for us.

All our thanks the Fernandez family.

Sarah and Corporal Tom Harper London to Cambridge sponsored Cycle Ride

The bike ride went really well, I actually enjoyed it! Apart from the soul destroying hill at mile 40!! But as cheesy as it sounds I just reminded myself of the fact they'd be plenty of lads that would love to swap places with me!

A Mother's and Soldier's Story - Bronwyn and Cayle Royce

It has been 2 months since I last wrote an update and I have been receiving emails from people asking if they have been dropped from the list, so I thought it time to write again. I know that some people are really keen to hear about Cayle's progress.

First I'll tell you a story. Cayle and I went grocery shopping in Tesco in May. He was in his wheelchair and I was pushing the trolley. Coming towards us was a man pushing a trolley with 3 young children in it. The 2 girls saw Cayle and asked their dad about the wheelchair, but the boy said to his dad "what happened to his legs" to which Cayle loudly said "it's because I didn't eat my vegetables". Hopefully the shock on the lads face means that he now eats every vegetable put in front of him.

Until a new one arrives from the States, Headley Court have now temporarily lent Cayle a wheelchair to keep upstairs in the house so that he has a means of getting around once he gets off the stair lift. But before he got the chair, he had to shuffle on the floor to get around and obviously there was no wheelchair next to his bed. On 8th May, he was working on his laptop on his bed when he remembered he needed to tell his brother something, who happened to be in the room next door. Cayle said he literally just 'stepped' off the bed but of course landed on the floor. He said he had completely forgotten that he does not have legs anymore and it was a shock when he fell to the floor. Normally his wheelchair next to the bed would be a conscious reminder for him, so he said it is the first time he has done that. A few days later he was sitting in the lounge chatting to me when he really flinched. When I asked what the problem was, he said someone had stood on his little toe. It never ceases to amaze me just how strong the phantom pains are.

On 5th June, Cayle had the first of his hand operations at Salisbury Hospital .It was to be done under local anaesthetic, and when Cayle was wheeled into theatre, a screen was put up in front of him. He asked for it to be removed but the staff said it was compulsory. However, when Doc Rod Dunn arrived, he instructed it to be taken away because he knew Cayle would want to watch the op. Rod opened Cayle's hand and chipped all the scar tissue away (Cayle said it sounded just like someone was crunching on chicken gristle) and released the MCPC joints (knuckles) in both his middle and ring fingers. Rod told Cayle that the main bone at the base of his thumb has been destroyed, so although he will in future be able to operate on the thumb and hopefully get more movement, Cayle will never have the same range of movement in it as his right thumb has. Three hours later, Cayle was sent to the recovery room. A few days after the op, a splint was made for his hand and he has to wear it at night so that the joints don't get too stiff. Prior to the operation, Cayle could only move his fingers fractionally but now his two fingers have been loosened and they are at an 80 degree angle to his hand. With the help of his right hand, Cayle can open and close his left hand, but the next operation should entail ligaments being taken from his legs and put into his fingers so that hopefully he will have a more functional hand. At this stage, he is not sure when the next op will be.

After a week in hospital, Cayle had had enough and asked to be discharged. Thankfully he could come straight home - what a relief that he is able to come and go as he pleases now. He told us that the food at the hospital was awful and that the portions could hardly feed a child. With that said, he told us he needed some real food so we brought the Weber out of the garage onto the deck and it hasn't been put away since! Many many fires have been lit and lots of food cooked on the Weber, all done by Cayle. We are very grateful that the deck was built as it has meant that Cayle can spend most of his time outdoors.

In April, I was approached by Mike from Norton House as it was SSAFA Norton Homes 5th year anniversary. Mike asked if I would be prepared to do a phone interview because I have stayed in the Birmingham and Headley houses, and they wanted some feedback. I agreed to the interview which then became an email article, which finally resulted in Cayle and I having a photo shoot done on 22nd April. Cayle's story is now in SSAFA News which has just been released, plus it will go into the SSAFA Annual Report. Subsequently, I have been informed that one of the photographs is to be used on a poster to illustrate the work of SSAFA. I have included one of the photos from the shoot.

On 16th July, Cayle leaves for the USA with a group of other wounded British soldiers where they will participate in Soldier Ride, which is a 4 day cycle ride ending in New York. They will be hand-cycling with Wounded Warriors which is the American version of the UK's Battle Back. He will be back in the UK on 22nd July and begins another admission at Headley Court on 24th when he will hopefully be fitted with his new Genium computerised legs which have microprocessor knees. These legs are currently the top of the range and come at a cost of £44 000 each. His 4 week admission will focus mainly on him learning to walk on them.

Cayle is currently using the money donated to him over the past year to furnish and equip the house, and he would like to say a big thank you to all of you who contributed.

Cayle's trip to the States seems so long ago but I would like to include it in this update. When the Battle Back group arrived to check in at the airport, they were ushered to the VIP lounge and then told that they had been upgraded to Club Class. Cayle said it made such a difference to the flight - previously when he had flown to Bavaria for skiing, his prosthetic legs had been jammed up against the seat in front of him and made the trip extremely uncomfortable. This time the seat he was on folded down into a bed which meant he could get some sleep, although I think a fair amount of drinking took place as well. Then when they got to the US, Cayle said going through Immigration Control caused a bit of confusion when he had to be fingerprinted because his left hand has no fingerprints at all.

The group met with the guys from Wounded Warrior Project which is equivalent to the UK's Battle Back, and I gather there was instant bonding because they have all been through similar Incidents. There were approximately 50 wounded servicemen and women from WWP participating in Soldier Ride, as well as carers, and then civilians who paid to do the ride. Miss New York was present at the start of the ride and Cayle had his photograph taken with her. Cayle said the whole ride was an incredible experience and they cycled approximately 68 miles over 3 days. Something Cayle commented on is the amazing hospitality the Americans show towards wounded servicemen - he said they never paid for a thing wherever they went, and it was not that WWP had set everything up for them because the group randomly moved about. He said he was very impressed with the general public, and he ended up bringing back more money than he had taken over with him. Heading back to the UK, Cayle said he half expected a massive alarm to go off when he got to the airport because of the fingerprint issue. Thankfully nothing did happen, and the return flight was uneventful.

Once back in the UK on 24th July, Cayle went straight to Headley Court that morning and literally straight into sessions. When I spoke to him that night, he sounded absolutely exhausted but still buzzing from the excitement of the trip. Commencing his 5 week admission, he was full of hope about his new Genium legs. But, things have not gone smoothly at all - there has been a massive issue getting his sockets right and so far they are not winning. Sockets were made for him and Cayle had to put them on with the legs and then the whole rig was linked to a laptop. The intention is to find the correct alignment with the aid of the computer, and then sockets are made accordingly. If the alignment is incorrect, the legs will not function to their full capacity. There are 3 lights which should all be green if the position is correct, but Cayle said it was never achieved - he was trying to explain what was comfortable for him but he was being told that he had to stand a certain way and he said it was just not natural. When he showed what was comfortable, he was told that he must have excellent balance, flexibility and core strength to be able to stand and walk as he does. New measurements were then taken, but unfortunately the sockets are still not correct. The Geniums are very complex legs to walk on and need to be mastered for a few weeks before the user can take them away, which is why Cayle has been on a 5 week admission. Frustratingly, even 5 weeks has not been enough but Cayle arrived home on Friday night and has brought the Geniums with him and he intends practicing on them at home. Until he feels more comfortable on them, he will continue to use the stubbies when he goes out because they are more stable and predictable.

On 7th August, I received this message from Cayle "I'm not dead x". Initially I thought he was trying to let me know that he was sorry he had not been in touch but that he was thinking of me - what he actually was saying was that he really was not dead but had just completed another sky dive at Weston on the Green in Oxford. The charities that sponsor these activities deserve a massive thank you.

Previously I have mentioned that so many amputees suffer from ingrown hairs on their stumps due to the grinding that takes place inside the sockets. An ingrown hair can lead to a sore developing which then means no walking because there is a high risk of infection. Cayle has had ingrown hairs a few times, so two weeks ago his legs were lasered. This will be a process of approximately 6 treatments but it should be a permanent solution to the problem. The doctor who did the treatment also mentioned that Dr Evriviades wants Cayle to have laser treatment done on his face to break down the scar tissue.

In preparation for the Atlantic Challenge, Cayle has been spending about 4 hours a day doing cardio in the gym at Headley Court. He does not have access to rowing equipment yet because a seat and hand adaptation still needs to be made for him. He will need to put on some weight before the Challenge as competitors burn around 8000 calories a day and lose about 20% of their body weight over the duration of the race. He has no body fat at the moment and therefore has no reserves to draw from, so we will need to fatten him up a bit before he goes. There are a few courses that the crew need to have done before the crossing - the Yacht master Ocean qualification which includes celestial navigation (navigation by the stars), Survival at Sea, and a civilian VHF radio qualification (the team have already done radio courses through the Army but this is the civilian qualification). Also to be done before the Challenge is for the team to have rowed constantly together for a total of 24 hours, 12 of those being at night.

At present, the boat is being refitted at Rossiter Yachts as previously it was used for a 6 man team but for this Challenge it will be used for only 4. A focus for the team at the moment is to find a title sponsor. The team are due to leave the UK mid November to go to La Gomera to get the boat ready for the crossing. An interesting statistic is that more people have been into space than have rowed the Atlantic Ocean.

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I LCpl Wilburn have had a very long road to recovery after the injuries I sustained in Afghanistan 2009, my injuries were very minor to start off with, I fell from a CVRT armoured vehicle and got my right leg caught in the vehicle bar armour, as I went to climb off the vehicle not realising my right foot was stuck I then fell causing significant pain to my right knee and lower leg. Unsure what I had done I reported to Camp Bastion hospital, after seeing the medical team they referred me to the physio, after explaining to the physio what had happened they realised that my right leg was badly rotated. I had numerous amounts of physio to try pulling my leg around but as it was very close toward the end off my tour I had to carry on my treatment back at camp.

After two years off and a specialist trying to figure out what had happened, my condition was getting worse, my patella was dislocating around 6-7 times a day causing severe pain to my right knee. My surgeon then told me that he was going to do an operation on my femur, he was going to saw through my femur bone, rotate my femur, insert a nail from my hip down to my knee and then screw it in place, hopefully this would resolve the problem. After my operation in Frimley Park hospital on 29th March 2012 when I finally came around from the sedation I was in horrible amounts of pain and my right foot was still in the same position as it was before the operation, as soon as I realised that I knew then that there was a problem.

After 9 days in hospital not been able to walk I managed to do minimal weight bearing on my right leg with crutches just so they would discharge me. When I got home with a bag full of medication I was unable to do anything, my leg was in a really bad way. I was so glad my wife Poppy was around to help after three months off and help from the physio's on camp. When I was home I was using the furniture to get around the house and crawling up and down stairs for a few weeks but then one day I realised I could walk, not in the best way but at least I was off my crutches, the way I was walking was so bad but I was happy because I did not have to use the crutches. They was no one around to tell me different and that I needed to keep using my crutches as this would cause me more problems walking the way I did.

I carried on walking the same way and a few months down the line I eventually got to Headly Court in September 2012, when they realised how I was walking they told me to stop and get on crutches or use a wheel chair immediately, I refused to use a chair as I did not think my problem was that bad. After 6 weeks at Headly Court my consultant then told me that the physio was just causing me more problems, he referred me to another specialist, some of them talked to me about amputation which I totally disagreed with, I just wanted my leg fixed. My consultant got a second opinion with a new surgeon at Kings Collage hospital in London, my new surgeon was shocked at the way I was walking and he knew he had to do things ASAP, he did some research and I am now awaiting further operations, my next major operation is on the 30th July 2013, hopefully this will bring me good results.

I have had a lot of help throughout from the regiment, my chain of command has been really helpful, especially Ssgt Bower with endless amounts of reports and pointing me in the correct direction. I have now got to look to the future and think good things will come from my further treatment, I have been told that I will not be able to carry on in the army which I was expecting as I have been off work since March 2012. I really just do not know what to do in the future as I was expecting to do my full army career but unfortunately I had bad luck and it has left me disabled. The regiment have been very helpful by giving my £8000 pounds to purchase a new vehicle as the DVLA revoked my manual driving licence, I am only allowed to use an automatic vehicle with adaptations, this has helped me out so much and means me, my wife and our 16 week old daughter Lola Pearl can get around to see our family.

The welfare officer also helped me to get into a better lifestyle of living by moving me into a disabled adapted house which was so helpful and helped me in all the ways possible, having a down stairs wet room, double French doors going into the garden, all the doors have been widened in case I end up being in a wheel chair, the stairs have got a banister at both sides to help me take the weight off my right leg.

I've only done one course while I have been injured but that was due to many amounts of medical appointments, every time Capt Stott the welfare officer tried to help me with as many courses as possible my medical condition always was a priority, which unfortunately is not good for the future ahead when I am due to leave the army, I am sure the welfare officer will get me as many courses as possible. I have carried out a battle back course which was very challenging but also very outstanding with the adaptive equipment they have, I really enjoyed my week course with them. I have applied for many more but my medical appointments always take priority.

Thank you.

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I would have to say I am quite lucky my injury was not caused by an IED or a Gun shot, just picking up a simple bottle of water whilst on patrol in Afghanistan I suffered a back injury. Unknown by myself or medics it was to become more apparent how serious it really was back home months after, the pain in my back and leg was too severe and after a few hours in A&E under an MRI, I found I had suffered a prolapsed disc in my lower spine. After surgery the pain in my leg was gone but my back was still in pain and I was unable to walk for a few weeks.

It has been three months since the operation and I am not able to return back to regimental duty, I am also aware of possible medical discharge which looks more than likely on the grounds of not being able to carry weight in fear of sustaining another prolapsed disc.

If it was not for the welfare system and the LD Colonel's Appeal life would be ten times harder. After the heavy burden injured soldiers have suffered in the last decade on operations charities like the LD Colonel's Appeal are essential in the recovery process for mind and for body.

Now I have to see what the future holds for me but I would like to thank the Light Dragoons Colonel's Appeal for all the support I have received.

Thank you.

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On the 9th September 2012 I was involved in an IED explosion in Helmand province Afghanistan; within 50 minutes I was back at camp Bastion hospital where I received excellent medical care.

Within an hour of being at the hospital I had an MRI scan to identify what damage had been done to my back and to see how serious the injury was. The doctors found out that I had crushed two vertebrates towards the top of my spine and I was unable to move and was succumbed to bed rest for a prolonged period of time. I then spent the following 72 hours in Bastion awaiting my flight back to the UK and the Queen Elizabeth hospital Birmingham.

On arrival at Birmingham I was greeted by my welfare SNCO Sgt Cameron who was already with my family making sure they were relaxed prior to my arrival. I only spent a few days there but the support was outstanding and I left with a sound knowledge of what the regiment could do for me in regards to financial help and support not only for myself but for my family also.

Once I was discharged the regiment continued to support me and my family with regular updates and visits from the welfare team.

After a period of sick leave I was collected by a welfare driver and returned back to camp at RBSM where I was greeted by familiar faces of the regiment, during this time I had an interview with the medical officer who stated that the best place for me at that time was at home resting in the care of my family. I had a heart felt conversation with the PADRE who was happy to listen and left me feeling like I had a friendly face that I could always go back to for support when needed.

After I returned back to work the rest of the regiment were still on leave which allowed me the time to go to work in the welfare dept, this allowed me to slowly gather what was happening and made my return into Squadron life run smoothly. Once I was back in the swing of thing an intensive physio course helped me get back on my feet.

Since the injuries have occurred I have been away on several trips, some to note have been the Majorca trip funded by the Not Forgotten Association. These trips were amazing and since then I was invited to the founderís day parade at Chelsea hospital, it was great to meet some of the veterans and hear some of their stories.

I am now at the stage where I do not think I can carry on with service life after my ordeal out in Afghanistan and have decided the best decision for me and my family was to sign off and try and start a new career in Fibre optics.

I am now looking forward to the Southern reunion in Hyde Park in May 2014 where I can catch up with old friends, I have been invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party and I am taking part in a canoeing trip to the south of France which I look forward to.

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I am Sgt Barry Taaffe from B Squadron (BRF) Sqn Light Dragoons and was injured on Op Herrick 16 on the 21st September 2012 by a Taliban hand grenade; I was immediately Casevaced to Camp Bastion for treatment. From the start Regimental personnel attended to my needs in hospital (Bastion) i.e. washing, packing my boxes etc.

On the 23rd September 2012 I was flown to QEHB Hospital in Birmingham, on arrival all my family were there waiting for me, they had been picked up and drove to the hospital by a Regimental CVO Sgt Cox. All my families transport, accommodation and food were paid for through the Army welfare system, they were very much looked after and they would like to say thank you to all the Regimental Welfare team and other welfare facilities that were provided for them, they could not have asked for anything more. I also received a Regimental bag full with a wash kit, shorts, t-shirt and track suit to wear around the hospital (pretty smart I think).

After all the operations in Birmingham and Bastion, in total it took about a month and I was on the road to recovery down at Headley Court, I spent about 12 weeks in total down there then rehabilitation for the remainder of the year and into 2013.

The Regiment still had a keen interest in me and other members of the Regiment on our rehab as well as visits from friends and work colleagues. Currently I am still having the odd operation and rehab course but I am back to work and limited to certain jobs.

Throughout this whole ordeal I have been aware that the Colonels Appeal has been there in case I have needed something to help me with my rehab or make life easier for me and my family, however I have not needed it, through speaking to other members of Light Dragoons (Tpr Royce and Cpl Fernandez) down in Headley Court they said they have and it is a brilliant Charity and widely appreciated by all. Being in the same situation down at Headley Court myself I think it is a very good cause for injured LD troops just knowing that help and money is there if needed.

I would like to thank all personnel involved who have helped me and my family in our difficult time, personally it is much appreciated.

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Captain Guy Disney

Having returned from the Walking with the Wounded expedition to the North Pole I then attended the Forward Air Controllers course at RAF Leeming. The Light Dragoons' Tactical Air Control Party then deployed as a troop on Ex Red Flag which was run in Alaska and served well as a build up to the Mission Specific Training that was to follow.

It was good to get into the swing of pre-deployment training again and re-focus on operations. We are now set to deploy to Afghanistan in March and I have no doubt that Op Herrick 16 will present The Light Dragoons with plenty of new challenges over the next seven months; what is key is that we take stock of what will be required for the welfare of our soldiers for the years that follow. The Colonel's Appeal is critical to ensuring that the welfare of our soldiers, and their families, is looked after not only now, but also in the years to come.

On the 4 July 2009 my troop was involved in Operation PANCHAI PALANG 2 in the vicinity of the Babaji district in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. During the operation we were tasked to provide intimate support to the infantry troops on the ground in a week that saw some of the highest casualty rates experienced from operations in Afghanistan. Towards the end of the day we were ambushed.

A rocket propelled grenade pierced the hull of the Spartan I was commanding, went through my right leg and then on to kill Private Robbie Laws. What ensued was a morphine fuelled haze, emergency evacuation off the battlefield and the amputation of my right leg, just below the knee.

Once back in the UK I was put through a rigorous rehabilitation process. This led me to see first hand the importance of charitable trusts. They undoubtedly play a key role in the rehabilitation of injured servicemen and women. More than anything they have the ability to release funds quickly and on an individual basis, providing key aid to those in need.

What has struck me as absolutely vital for the successful rehabilitation of injured servicemen and women is that they get the appropriate care once they come to leave the armed forces. The Light Dragoons Charitable Trust will continue to ensure that the welfare of its soldiers is maintained after their military career has ended or been brought to a premature end due to injury. Having given everything for their country it is crucial that they are not forgotten.

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Sergeant Simon Taylor

Due to a decline in his health Sgt Si Taylor has not been able to carry on in the role of the Regimental Welfare SNCO. In 2011 he had his lower right leg removed and a major operation on his spine in the December.

His road of rehabilitation has been, and will be, a long one. He continues to make good progress and is currently walking and running on a prosthetic limb, he hopes to make a good overall recovery. During his rehabilitation Sgt Taylor has himself raised charitable funds in support of the Colonels Appeal by becoming involved in activities ran by the serving soldierís families which raised £5,000.

He refuses to be negative about his condition and actively encourages other Regimental soldiers with difficulties to overcome their problems. He also continues to be an active member of the Regiment in and around camp attending SNCO Mess and Regimental functions.

Due to the nature and complexity of his injuries he now has to look towards a career outside of the military. He is preparing to study towards a degree in Sport Rehabilitation, where on completion he would like to be involved with facilities such as the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre helping others who have found themselves in this similar difficult situation and have been faced with life changing decisions, this to help people become fully mobile again. In doing so, he hopes to offer a unique perspective to others with injuries such as his, as he will have walked the same path they have, hoping to give inspiration and advice which will inspire others through the difficult road that lies ahead.

Sgt Taylor continues to be very positive despite experiencing great mental and physical battles. He is still under the care of Headley Court and will be for some time to come. He will soon leave the Army and start his degree and with his family start a new chapter in his life.

Whilst serving with the Light Dragoons on Op HERRICK 10 Sgt Simon Taylor sustained severe injuries during an Improvised Explosive Device explosion. His vehicle hit a pressure plate triggering an explosion and blowing the Samson into the air. L/Cpl Brandon, the driver, was killed and Sgt Taylor was thrown from the vehicle. Upon arrival at Bastion he slipped into a coma and was diagnosed with injuries including broken spine, a broken collar bone, a broken arm, broken ribs, a broken left femur and a broken right ankle.

Within 24 hours Sgt Taylor had been flown back to the UK to Selly Oak. Although the medical care he received was excellent, Sgt Taylor has mixed feelings about his time in hospital. After a series of operations Sgt Taylor was due to move to Hedley Court. The hospital could not provide an ambulance and Sgt Taylor was moved in a minibus. His pain was so severe by the time he reached Hedley Court that it stimulated inflamation in his ankle and he had to spend two days back in hospital.

Throughout his treatment in Birmingham, Sgt Taylor's wife was accommodated in Norton House by SSAFA. With a Regimental Welfare Officer stationed with her and her newborn daughter, Mrs Taylor was able to visit when she wished. The welfare system looked after Sgt Taylor's family outstandingly with Captain Mick Reed MBE on hand to provide support; a provision that would not have been possible without the financial backing of the Light Dragoons Charitable Trust.

Sgt Taylor is still undergoing rehabilitation but is back in work and currently serving in the Regimental Welfare Office and hopes to be able to use his experiences to influence the care of soldiers who have endured similar experiences. His long road to recovery still continues, with regular physiotherapy at Hedley Court and no clear prognosis for his long term future.

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Trooper Ian Costello

Following injuries Tpr Ian Costello sustained in Afghanistan in 2009 he has needed to make regular visits to Hedley Court which have supported him in his rehabilitation to date. Attending a course known as 'Battle Back' this has allowed him to participate in sporting activities such as Scuba Diving in Malta, whilst also working with H4H as a speed boat driver/operator, both proving a great tonic to restore his confidence and self belief.

Unfortunately the long term impact from the incident suffered on operations has resulted in an impending Medical Discharge being awarded to Tpr Costello. He and his young family are hoping for a smooth transition from military life to that of a civilian, which will in itself be a challenge.

Ian and his family are preparing to buy and have been assisted by Haig Homes as far as house purchase is concerned, this has included adapting his new home to suit his condition and his needs towards making life as comfortable as possible. Ian Costello has accepted his situation in a positive manner and realises the need to look forward in his new life, this he points out has seen him supported from injury on ops, taken from theatre as part of the AEROMED evacuation process to Selly Oak, which then saw him in rehabilitation at Hedley Court. He continues to challenge himself where he can.

Trooper Ian Costello served with The Light Dragoons on Operation HERRICK 10 in Afghanistan. On the 29 July 2009, during a routine patrol to Check Point 11 in the vicinity of the hostile region of Babaji in the Helmand Province he was caught in an Improvised Explosive Device detonation and sustained severe injuries. His injuries included: multiple spinal fractures, two shattered feet and severe skull fractures which later led to serious memory loss.

Tpr Costello was rapidly flown back to the UK and was in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham within 24 hours. Due to the complexity of Trooper Costelloís injuries he spent a total of 9 weeks in Selly Oak. Moving to Hedley Court, Complex Trauma Ward, Trooper Costello would then start the rigorous rehabilitation process involving daily remedial fitness, intense physiotherapy and aqua training.

Trooper Costello has been afforded an incredible amount of support since his injury. His house in Robertson Barracks was adapted by the Vocational Occupational Therapists to allow him greater access and manoeuvrability. Whilst in Hedley Court his wife was accommodated by SSAFA in Norton House to enable her daily visits. Tpr Costello has received assistance from charitable trusts including Help For Heroes and Battle Back. This has enabled him to re-engage in various outdoor pursuits. Since his injury he has gained various Scuba Diving Qualifications and represents the Army Scuba Diving Team.

However, despite a natural proactive attitude which assisted in a much speedier recovery than expected, he still remains on the long slow road to recovery with a daily rehabilitation programme and probably will be for some time. It is not clear how long it will take Trooper Costello to fully recover or what the long term support he will need therefore we must be in a position to be able to support him throughout.

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