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Newly recruited to the Parachute Regiment, he was performing a tour of duty in Northern Ireland when a four-ton truck in which he was travelling was destroyed by a massive IRA bomb. Eighteen of his friends and colleagues were killed in the Warrenpoint blast — the biggest single loss of life during the Troubles.
Paul barely survived. His body was broken. His left leg was amputated below the knee. His skin was burned down to the bone. Those who saw him wondered if it might not be kinder to let him die.
But Paul refused to be beaten. He had made a promise to himself that he would make up for the loss of his friends’ lives by living his own life to the full. His story is a remarkable tale of one man’s determination to make the most of his life against the odds.
“I should not have survived that day, but having done so I feel I have to justify my existence.
I was 18 years old. On August Bank Holiday in 1979, in Northern Ireland. I was involved in the Warren Point bomb blast, the biggest single loss of life since the Second World War. 18 died. I lay where the blast had thrown me, burning, and body smashed. Then followed two years in hospital and rehab, but that is just the beginning of the story.
Sitting now in my wheel chair, having read yet another article in the newspaper of soldiers’ journeys from Helmand Province to Selly Oak Hospital then to Headley Court, I am reading my own story over and over again. As I crawl on my hands and knees to the bathroom because my stump is too sore to wear my prosthetic leg and my foot to painful to hop, I think – can 30 years really have gone by?
I am always in pain – it’s just a matter of how much.
I disguise this with my humour, to the extent people find it hard to take me seriously.
I really have lived these last 30 years. I have tried to fill every day. Tried to make people smile, tried to inspire all around me, and to show the IRA they could not break me.
This short 30 years have been full of positive wonderful people, and fantastic experiences. I have done many things that no one else has done. A real voyage of starting life again, learning to deal with limitations and constant pain.”
What’s New! Check out my blog for the Horses Help Heroes Challenge – Tuesday 21 June 2011……………………………………..