MY STORY

During a routine foot patrol, I stepped on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and lost both my legs and an arm. Despite suffering horrific life-changing injuries, my recovery was going well until a problem with my prosthetics set me back massively, restricting my mobility and confining me to a wheelchair.

I felt defeated. I felt depressed. I felt lost.

I was on foot patrol in Helmand Province and we waded through a stream. My mate behind me slipped and, as I turned to help him, I stepped on something. I heard a click. The next thing I knew I was being dragged out of the water and I could hear the guys telling me not to look down.

 

The bomb I stepped on blew off both my legs and an arm. All that was left were my shin bones and my kneecaps. I could feel pins and needles in my arm and when I looked, the skin had separated from the bone. My arm was dangling, held on by its tendons, and I knew straight away that I’d lost it.

Within weeks of being injured, I was back in the UK learning how to walk on prosthetic legs. However, despite all my hard work leaning how to walk again, I was struggling with the pain caused by my sockets, which resulted in me resorting to a wheelchair to get around. Given all the hard work I had put it up until this point, it was incredibly frustrating.

However, a pioneering medical procedure not available in the UK at the time saw me fly halfway around the world to Sydney, Australia. The operation was followed by months of intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation helping me regain the use of my new prosthetic legs and marked the beginning of a new life for me after injury presenting with it new and exciting opportunities.

Images used with kind permission by The Sun newspaper

LIFE AFTER INJURY

Since being injured I have competed in two Invictus Games. In 2017 I flew to Canada to compete in my first ever games with Team GB and received bronze and gold medals in shot put and discus events respectively. The following year saw me fly out to Sydney to compete in my second consecutive games and return home with a medal from each of the four events I competed in, including two more gold.

I am currently training for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which take place in 2020.

As well as compete in track and field events, I am also a keen angler and receive full sponsorship from fishing tackle giants, Maver (UK). I compete in a number of high profile events up and down the country fishing against some of the best in the country, including England Internationals. I also take great pride in being an Ambassador for Hooked For Heroes - a charity dedicated to help raise money for injured soldiers through fishing - as well as being an active member of BLESMA (British Limbless Ex Service Man's Association).

Outside of my hobbies and sporting career, I take great pride in working with Fisher House acting as an ambassador for the Fisher House Foundation, which is a respite facility in Birmingham for wounded veterans and their families.  I also attend a wide variety of functions, corporate & charity events and black tie dinners all over the UK as a motivational speaker. I get a lot of enjoyment from helping motivate others given my personal life experiences and helping people realise that anything is possible - even after life changing circumstances - if you commit.

© 2019 by Ben Hughes.