First steps on new legs for true hero

Sgt Rick Clement takes his first steps since losing both lower limbs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
Sgt Rick Clement takes his first steps since losing both lower limbs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
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It is a beaming smile which tells its own story.

Standing tall and walking proud, Blackpool hero Sgt Rick Clement is back on two feet once again – four years on from losing both limbs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

Rick Clement

Rick Clement

The heroic South Shore soldier finally took his first steps this week at the Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre in Preston, thanks to a pair of £100,000 legs.

The new limbs, funded by the Ministry of Defence and NHS, will give the 35-year-old a chance to walk once again.

Before being fitted with the new legs on Thursday he told The Gazette it was an exciting time ahead, but admitted there was still a long way to go before he could walk unaided.

Sgt Clement added: “It’s only the first kind of little effort on a long journey.

Rick Clement

Rick Clement

“It’s a long time before I will be properly walking. I have been going to the physio for a few months – it has taken a while to get things to fit and before I can stand up.

“It is just the first few steps.

“My prosthetics have had to be adapted around 10 to 15 times. That in itself has taken some time.

“I’m excited for what I will be doing in 12 months’ time. The next few weeks will be hard work and small steps along the bars at the physio centre.

Rick Clement

Rick Clement

“I’m really chuffed about it all. I’m trying not to give false hope but it is great news.”

Working under the guidance of Dr Fergus Jepson at the rehabilitation centre, the soldier has spent months working on his core muscles to help support his stance.

Sgt Clement added: “I have got two prosthetic people and a physio, too. The physio helps with strength and balance.

“My core has not been used for some time. My upper body is OK but all the other muscles in my body have had a nice sleep for a while. I try and get down a couple of times a week to build up my strength.”

His new legs, designed by German prosthetics company Ottobock, a firm set up in response to the large number of injured veterans from the First World War, cost around £50,000 each.

The ‘Genium’ legs use a microprocessor to walk upstairs, move backwards and pivot.

After posting the pictures on Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of people showed their support for the inspirational figure.

Among those backing Sgt Clement was rock star Bryan Adams, who photographed the former soldier as part of a photo exhibit about young British servicemen and women who have suffered life-changing injuries on military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The singer, famous for the best-seller Everything I Do, I Do It For You, retweeted a picture of Sgt Clement walking with the new limbs, adding: “Way to go Rick!!!”

Sgt Rick Clement – the pride of the Fylde coast

Sgt Clement lost both his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

The sergeant, part of the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster Regiment, suffered horrific wounds and massive internal injuries in 2010 when he stepped on a landmine.

After returning to the UK he carried the Olympic torch in June 2012. He retired from the Army in 2013 to continue working on his charity A Soldier’s Journey, which has so far raised more than £100,000.

He is a member of Blesma (the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association) at South Shore and was awarded a Millie award (Military award) from a national newspaper for his charity fund-raising work.