War hero Rick gears up for day of destiny

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A war hero badly injured in Afghanistan is set to further defy doctors by walking unaided to lay a wreath during Blackpool’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

Sergeant Rick Clement, who lost both his legs in a bomb blast five years ago and was branded ‘lucky’ to even survive, has undergone months of gruelling rehab sessions in preparation for the feat.

Sgt Rick Clement using his �100,000 prosthetic legs

Sgt Rick Clement using his �100,000 prosthetic legs

Flanked by Blackpool mayor Coun Peter Callow and former president of the Royal British Legion Ian Coleman, Sgt Clement has pledged to ‘give everything in remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice’.

The 35-year-old has spoken of his pride at the major milestone, which will see him walk on his £100,000 prosthetic legs in public for the first time.

He said: “The day is about remembering those who died. I appreciate all the words of encouragement and it’ll be great to see so many people turning out for the service.

“It’s just a bonus I can show them my progress at the same time.

“Laying the wreath on Remembrance Sunday is one of the most important and proud things any soldier can do.

“It’s a way of showing the respect and admiration for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in all conflicts and, for me, particularly my friends who were killed in Afghanistan, as well as remembering our Armed Forces still fighting today.”

Sgt Clement lost his legs, suffered horrendous internal injuries that mean he can never become a dad, and almost lost his right arm after stepping on a crudely-made Taliban bomb while leading a foot patrol through Helmand province in 2010.

He was airlifted to safety but doctors later confessed they never expected him to survive his ordeal.

Since then he has launched his own charity, posed for rocker-turned-photographer Bryan Adams, and swapped tweets with astronaut Chris Hadfield.

He has lost almost a stone in weight training hard for Sunday, although he admits to being ‘overwhelmed’ by the scores of supportive messages sent ahead of the service.

He said: “Some people are travelling from across the country to come along on Sunday after seeing my story.

“One of the medics from the helicopter that picked me up and saved my life, Hayley Vendyback, is coming too.

“It’s pretty overwhelming to be honest.”

The service starts at 10.50am at the war memorial, close to North Pier.

There will also be a two minute silence, wreath-laying ceremony, and a parade.