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Help our hero
9:30am Thursday 5th July 2012 in News
A COURAGEOUS Rowley Regis soldier, who lost both legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, is facing an uphill battle on the road to recovery confined to borrowed and worn out wheelchairs.
After suffering horrific injuries while helping to rid the world from the Taliban terrorist threat last November, Private Luke Hemming still does not have a custom-built wheelchair.
His sister Stacey Slater said the two he has borrowed from the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre, Surrey, where he is undergoing physiotherapy to develop his upper body strength, have been difficult to operate.
“The first one kept stopping suddenly and the one he has now is old and worn out, falling apart. You’d think they’d give people like Luke a new one, it would make his life much easier,” she said.
But after seeing the 21-year-old from the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment at a fundraising evening for him at the Laurels Club, Colley Gate, last Friday, a former wheelchair supplier came to his rescue with the offer of a new one free of charge.
The benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “The wheelchair did not look suitable for him and where there was a slight incline, he was struggling.
“I have one which he could have with the greatest of pleasure if it is suitable for him and approved by a clinician.”
The former Heathfield Technology College student is now back at Headley Court, and hopes to try out the wheelchair when he returns home.
Mrs Slater said: “He spends a few weeks there and then comes home for a break. It will be a couple of years before his is discharged.”
Pte Hemming is the most severely injured amputee to survive a blast from a lethal IED (improvised explosive device) and will not be able to use prosthetic limbs.
He also suffered a shattered pelvis, broken wrist and lost his wedding finger in the explosion which happened while on foot patrol to clear the Nad E Ali province of Taliban rule.
Despite his ordeal, Mrs Slater said he remains positive and in good spirits.
“He’s brilliant, he’s doing so well - it’s remarkable really,” she said.
An appeal to fund adaptations to Pte Hemming’s new home, a bungalow in Milking Bank, Dudley, has raised more than £15,000, boosted by £862 raised at the Laurels event, which featured entertainment from singer Derek James, a raffle and tombola.
Club committee member Richard Legiewicz said: “We certainly had a night to remember. Not only did we raise a lot of money for our chosen charity, but we had a superb evening of entertainment and food.
“Our singer Derek James gave a tremendous performance which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.”
Anyone wishing to donate to the appeal should contact Mrs Slater on 07428176972.