Volunteers help give in­jured sol­dier a fresh start

Coventry Telegraph - - NEWS - By ENDA MULLEN News Re­porter enda.mullen@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A BRI­TISH sol­dier se­verely in­jured in Afghanistan has thanked big-hearted volunteers who helped give him a fresh start in life by ren­o­vat­ing his new lodg­ings at War­wick’s Lord Leyces­ter Hos­pi­tal.

For­mer Guards­man John Daw­son was shot in the head by a sniper in Hel­mand Prov­ince, leav­ing him with life-chang­ing in­juries

The Mas­ter of the Lord Leyces­ter Hos­pi­tal, Heidi Meyer, said they had been given a gen­er­ous grant by the Gro­cers Livery Com­pany to ren­o­vate a flat for the ‘wounded warrior.’

She said: “Work­ing with BLESMA – a char­ity for limb­less vet­er­ans – John was se­lected as an ideal per­son to oc­cupy the flat.

“With his ar­rival we are truly meet­ing our founder Robert Dud­ley’s in­tent and our 1572 char­ter to pro­vide for those ‘maimed or hurt in the wars, in the ser­vice of the Queen’s Majesty.’

Lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als were quick to of­fer their sup­port for this ini­tia­tive, in­clud­ing for­mer War­wick mayor Mandy Lit­tle­john, deputy pa­trons Rosie Bragg and Janet Hon­no­raty, the Army Benev­o­lent Fund, Rugby for He­roes, the 353 char­ity, the Gre­nadier Guards, War­wick Re­lief in Need, the Lions and Blythe Lig­gins So­lic­i­tors.

Leam­ing­ton solic­i­tor Nick Watts from Blythe Lig­gins, who gave his time for free to han­dle all the le­gal work, said: “It has been heart-warm­ing to see so many peo­ple ral­ly­ing to sup­port John.”

John was serv­ing with the 1st Bat­tal­ion Gre­nadier Guards when he went up a look­out tower to re­lieve an­other sen­try and was shot in the head.

“The boys came run­ning and started to re­turn fire and to give me first aid,” he said.

“I was evac­u­ated and flown to Kabul where I was op­er­ated on in a US hos­pi­tal be­fore be­ing flown back to Brize Nor­ton and taken to the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal in Birm­ing­ham.

“I was in a coma for a few weeks and was then taken for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion at a mil­i­tary unit in Sur­rey where I spent the next two years, 18 months of which I couldn’t even walk.

“I then spent a fur­ther two years at a brain trauma unit in Nuneaton.”

Al­though he re­mem­bers very lit­tle of that day John does re­call that it was his par­ents’ wed­ding an­niver­sary, and that his son was only five weeks old at the time.

He also re­mem­bers with great pride his meet­ings with se­nior mem­bers of the Royal Fam­ily.

As well as be­ing asked by Prince Harry for some ad­vice about the In­vic­tus Games, he also met the Queen and the Duke of Ed­in­burgh at Wind­sor Cas­tle, and again as a guest at Royal As­cot.

“Peo­ple have been so kind to me and it’s won­der­ful to see how proud they are of our Armed Forces and to know that our mil­i­tary is held in such high es­teem,” said John.

“I have been so lucky to get a place at the Lord Leyces­ter Hos­pi­tal where I live along­side other re­tired ser­vice­men, and I am very grate­ful.”

Former Guards­man John Daw­son (be­low) was in­jured in Afghanistan

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