Monday, 10 August 2009

Matt Woollard: bionic fighter

Private Matt Woollard, from C (Essex) Company 1 R ANGLIAN, was just 18 when he stepped on three linked Taliban mines while out on patrol in Afghanistan. The mines took off his right leg and also left him with 160 pieces of shrapnel in his body. That was in May 2007. Now two years later he's determined to return to the frontline and become the first British infantryman with a prosthetic leg to go into battle.

Having decided to join the Army when still with the Leigh-on-Sea Army Cadets, Pte Woollard started training as soon as he left school at 16 and passed out in May, 2005. His deployment in Afghanistan with the Royal Anglians in 2007 was his first overseas tour. "I was nervous, but I'd had so much training and it's what I've always wanted to do, so I just cracked on with it."

Even when recovering from numerous operations, his positive attitude showed itself: "I just think well, life goes on - keep your chin up. There's nothing I can do about it, it's done now. I'm lucky I'm still alive."

Pte Woollard now walks with the help of a bionic leg fitted below the right knee. He has been following a tough fitness regimen - daily 3-mile runs, weight training, etc. With Corporal Billy Moore MC, also with 1 R Anglian and also wounded in Afghanistan, Matt has recently taken part in a week-long sailing trip along the English coast. Now he's ready to retake the Army's combat fitness test: " I know I can do it. I’m determined to do it, the leg’s a good bit of kit and is up to the challenge, so there’s no reason I shouldn’t."

Makes you feel very humble.

Good luck, Matt!

The Mail: British soldier amputee 'to take fight to the Taliban'
The Star: Bionic Matt wants return to front line.
The Times: Private Matt Woollard: I’ve unfinished business on the front line
The Echo: Landmine blew my leg away