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18 December 2017

Chris saddles up thanks to the ALF

Article by Greg Fidgeon

A FORMER soldier is back in the saddle with a little help from the Aaron Lewis Foundation.

The charity provided Chris Jones, 69, with 50 per cent of the funding for an ICE trike to allow him to cycle without causing further injury.

The dad of two lost his lower right leg in an accident while on duty in 1966 and later had his knee amputated after the bone fractured.

He said he had to endure “many years or torment” riding a conventional bike and gave up for several years – but described the feeling of being out on his new wheels as “exhilarating”.

Chris, who lives near Gloucester, explained that his Army life was just a “blip” having signed up straight from school at the age of 15 years and 10 months.

He said: “I joined the Junior Leaders’ Regiment Royal Signals. After 20 months I graduated to the Regulars, training to be a lineman – having passed my driving test in the Austin Champ.

“I was driving a Land Rover Line Layer in the snow at a quarry during a training exercise in Catterick. The only protection was the windscreen. At 15mph it turned over and tipped me out, crushing and severing my right leg.

“Eventually the RAMC ambulance arrived and as I was lifted onto the stretcher, my leg remained in the snow. It was then placed next to me and I was conscious all the time – just as well, so I could tell them my blood group.”

Chris was medically discharged eight months later “without a penny or any notion of compensation”.

His case was taken up by BLESMA – the charity for limbless veterans – and he was eventually awarded a war pension having been injured on duty.

But problems continued for Chris. He added: “I suffered for many years with a very short stump below the knee causing many other problems – inflammation, swelling, etc. I was often rendered to crutches despite holding down a job.

“In 1990 the knee was amputated, which brought some relief. I tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle and cycled as much as I could – including the seven miles to work and back for several years. However, it took its toll on my stump and caused more difficulties and more use of crutches and a wheelchair.”

After 37 years employment, Chris was medically retired aged 56 and has since taken up voluntary work. He is now the BLESMA Welfare Representative for Gloucestershire – a role that led to him meeting the ALF’s Steven Fraser.

Chris also learned about the ICE trike through BLESMA and was delighted when Steven told him the Aaron Lewis Foundation would provide half of the cash needed for the trike – which was taken on an inaugural 42-mile ride from Dundee to Arbroath.

He added: “I found the trike to be absolutely wonderful and I can now cycle without causing further stump damage. It’s so exhilarating to just cycle.”