The Military Army Blog

Double amputee soldier in bid to conquer Matterhorn

A former British Army soldier is attempting to become the first ever above the knee double amputee to scale and conquer one of the highest summits in Europe. Ex-corporal Neil Heritage, 35, plans to climb the 4,478 metre (14,692ft) Matterhorn in Switzerland – despite being told that he would never walk again. In 2004, at the age of 24, Mr Heritage, from Poole in Dorset, became the first British soldier to survive an above the knee double amputation after being blown up by a suicide bomber in Basra, Iraq.

Having narrowly survived the explosion and following countless surgical operations he was told he would be confined to a wheelchair. Mr Heritage’s extraordinary spirit and determination has made him an inspiration to many around the world as he continues to defy medical opinion and prove to all there is life beyond injury. He refused to accept he would never walk again and since recovering and retraining over the years he has completed triathlons, learned to ski and rowed across the Atlantic Ocean unsupported in the inaugural Row2Recovery team.

“In the first few years post injury the idea of walking and leading a normal life seemed out of reach,” he said.

“Now being able to attempt this challenge makes me realise how far things have come. I hope it encourages others dealing with physical and mental injuries to follow their dreams and realise there is life beyond injury.”

With the support of the Endeavour Fund, Mr Heritage will climb with a professional local mountain guide and former British Army soldiers Steve Green and Mark Hooks. The climb is expected to start on August 28 and be completed by August 31 but remains weather dependant. Each year around 300 people attempt to reach the peak with a guide of which many fail.

Mr Heritage will be climbing using two kinds of specially designed prosthetics. The first set will allow him to climb on rock in the lower section of the Matterhorn and the second set is designed with a crampon style for use on snow and ice.

The Endeavour Fund supports wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel and Veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.

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