Injured soldier’s £100k thank you

Richard and Leanne Clement of Speyside, South Shore, Blackpool

Richard and Leanne Clement of Speyside, South Shore, Blackpool

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A BLACKPOOL soldier who lost both his legs fighting in Afghanistan is preparing to leap from a plane and head to shark infested seas in an ambitious bid to thank those who have helped him.

Sgt Richard Clement suffered the horrific injury after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on patrol 18 months ago.

The 32-year-old spent months in hospital and rehab before he could return to the South Shore home he shares with wife Leanne.

He now he wants to say thank you to those who helped get him there.

Over the next 12 months Sgt Clement hopes to raise £100,000 with a series of charity events, and he’s set up his own website in a bid to get the donations rolling in.

He said: “I definitely feel lucky to be alive, the medics said that five years ago they wouldn’t have had the means to keep me here.

“I want to raise money for some of the charities which have helped me and my family over the last 18 months.

“I’m planning a sky dive with some of the staff from the Blackpool Blesma home and next year I want to go to Australia and cage dive with a great white shark.”

The local Blesma home allowed Sgt Clement, who also suffered serious internal injuries, to stay with them while his home was adapted and BLESMA is one of the charities he is fundraising for.

He also wants to raise cash for SSAFA, which provides accommodation for soldiers and their families close to rehab centres, Help for Heroes and the Army Benevolent Fund.

Sgt Clement said: “I’m in the process of organising a black tie dinner night with an auction at Weeton Barracks.

“My regiment, the Duke of Lancaster’s, is based there and they are quite keen to help out and stuff.

“I just thought I had to do something. I’ve set a target for the end of the 12 months to raise £100,000, which might be a little bit optimistic but I’m confident we can do that.”

As a consequence of the accident, Sgt Clement was left unable to have children.

He is also campaigning for soldiers to be given the right to freeze their sperm before they go on active duty.

To find out more about his fundraising go to www.a-soldiers-journey.co.uk.