The proud mum of a soldier who hand picked his way through a Taliban minefield to rescue fallen comrades has said she can’t bear to watch a shocking video showing his heroic actions.
New footage shows Private Daniel Hellings, of the Mercian Regiment, painstakingly searching the deadly alley via fingertip, unearthing four IEDs as he clears the path to two Afghan soldiers blown up in an earlier blast.
Ignoring direct orders to withdraw, the former Upton High School student was just 19-years-old when he risked his life conducting the hour long rescue mission despite being blown up himself in the process as another soldier triggered a bomb just yards from him – leaving him with three casualties.
This week shocking footage – filmed from a helmet mounted camera worn by one of his commanding officers – was revealed to the world through the national media showing the father-of-one's brave actions four years ago while out on patrol in Helmand in Afghanistan.
But, speaking from the family home in Great Sutton, his proud mum Lesley described the horror of not knowing if her son was going to come home alive, saying she had tried to discourage him from joining the Army, but he was determined to follow in his dad’s footsteps into the same regiment.
“I have not seen [the footage] myself, I cannot bring myself to watch it,” said the 48-year-old, who said her son initially kept the details of what really happened from them.
“I am obviously proud, but I do not know if it was a mixture of heroism and stupidity. I am horrified really.
“He did not think he was a hero, he though he was doing his job.”
Pt Hellings, who joined the Army straight out of West Cheshire College, was blown-up as a comrade triggered a bomb just yards from him as he walked through the minefield.
Suffering minor injuries, he went on to rescue three soldiers, resorting to searching with his hands as his metal detector was rendered useless by the debris, and even negotiating a hidden bomb with wires stretching the width of the alley.
Pt Hellings, who is now 23 and is based at Dale Barracks in Chester, was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his actions at the palace back in 2011.
Lesley, whose husband Kevin, 58, also served in the Mercians and Pt Hellings grew up in the Upton Camp, said it was only when they were at the ceremony that she heard the full details of her son’s bravery.
“It is four years ago, at the time I did not know exactly what had happened,” said the mum-of-three.
“When you are a military wife you know what they are doing and what to expect. Being a mother is something else, you worry about your kids, all the danger.
“You try to go on with your daily life, but it is always at the back of your mind. Every knock on the door, every phone call, you live in a state of dread.
“I lived though it with my husband, I didn’t think I would be going through it again.”