A SOLDIER has learned to downhill ski just four months after losing his leg in an explosion in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Philip Meadows, 23, of Germany based The Queens Dragoon Guards, lost his right leg from the knee down when the vehicle he was driving in was hit by a large improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on November 5, 2008.
But former Upton High School student Philip, whose parents still live in Chester, vowed to resume his career in the army and has just taken part in a pioneering adaptive skiing course designed for wounded and disabled military personnel.
Philip, who will marrying his fiancé Louise, 21, in May, said: “I have come such a long way since I was in my hospital bed. It’s amazing that I have made such a good recovery and now skiing just four months after losing my leg.
“I have a prosthetic leg which helps me to walk about but I don’t need it when I ski.
“It is really improving my confidence and helping me deal with my injury. I have picked up the sport really well and improving all the time. I am hoping to compete in some of the army skiing competitions in the future.”
Philip, who has also served twice in Iraq since he joined the Army in 2004, had done some cross country skiing before losing his leg but had never considered downhill skiing until he heard about the adaptive skiing course. He added: “Just knowing that I can do the same kinds of activities or more than many able bodied people is a massive boost.
“I want to stay in the Army and will adapt to deal with my injury.”
Philip was joined by eight other injured soldiers, five amputees, one person with a fused ankle, one with a paralysed arm and one with multiple shrapnel injuries, during the course.
Some of the students had skied before their accident and were having to readjust to completely different techniques, while others were starting as complete beginners with the added disadvantage of their disability to contend with.
However, by the end of the first day of the ten day course they were all successfully skiing down a variety of slopes which many able bodied people would fear trying. And all of the skiers took part in a competitive race at the end of the course.
Some of the athletes who took part in the adaptive skiing course last year may also be able to compete in the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Russia.