A 25-year-old paratrooper from Worcester who lost both legs and an arm fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan has achieved an ambition by standing to receive a medal from the Prince of Wales.
Lance Corporal Tom Neathway climbed from his wheelchair to meet Prince Charles in a ceremony at The Parachute Regiment’s base in Colchester, Essex.
More than 500 paratroopers received Afghanistan campaign medals. The prince, Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, told troops how “proud” he was of them and said he understood their families’ pain because his son, Prince Harry, had fought in the conflict this year.
Troops from the 2nd and 3rd Battalions saw action in Afghanistan this summer. Thirty-three British troops, or troops attached to British forces, died and more than 150 were hurt. Thirteen were Paratroopers.
L/Cpl Neathway, a member of 2 Para, was hurt when a roadside booby trap exploded in July. He said he realised immediately how serious his injuries were but knew help was at hand. “I knew how badly I was hurt,” he said. “But I knew I’d be OK because my mates would get me out.”
He said it had been a goal to stand to receive the medal and walk to nearby chairs reserved for wounded soldiers.
“Today was a milestone for me,” he said. “One of my goals was to stand to receive the medal, then walk to the chair. It wasn’t hard but it was hard to be able to do. It’s taken me two months of hard work – it probably should have taken longer. Now I just want to crack on. My next goal will be to get back to work.”
His father Alan, 57, a builder, was among relatives watching the ceremony. “It was very emotional seeing him stand up,” said Mr Neathway. “I was very proud. He’s just an amazing kid.”
Prince Charles said his son’s service gave him an understanding of what soldiers’ families went through. He added: “You have no idea how proud I am of all of you. I can only salute you.”