As a national Armed Forces charity we have been helping wounded and blinded veterans since WW1 to the present. Here are some of their stories.
Owen Pick was 18 when his leg was blown off by an IED in Afghanistan. Now he has his sights set a medal at the 2018 Winter Paralympics.
"I can’t thank Blesma enough for taking me on that first ski trip and for supporting me along the way."
Nerys Pearce has to be one of Blesma’s most active Members but that certainly wasn’t always the case.
After being paralysed when a car reversed in front of her motorbike, the former Combat Paramedic initially found her disability extremely tough to deal with. But after realising that she “could stay like that for 50 years and do absolutely nothing, or I could look at my old life, which I loved, and get it back”, she threw herself back into sport and began by taking part in Blesma’s Soldier Ride.
Royal Marines Commando Vincent Horton was bombed, shot at, shelled and captured (twice!) during WWII.
"The Germans started to shell me, so I switched routes – and that’s when I was blown up by a landmine and lost both my legs. I don’t remember much about it, although I do vividly recall that I thought I was going to die."
Army Veteran Steve McNeice was was struck by a life-threatening bacterial infection after service.
"I was in hospital for 17 months. I lost both legs above the knee as well as the muscles in my right arm. I lost my fingertips and a little finger."
John Booth survived having both legs amputated with a saw when he was a Prisoner Of War.
"One of doctors was taking legs away like ninepins. There was no anaesthetic, no medical stuff at all."
Rosemarie Heggie became a Blesma Member after an air raid collapsed her house & caused her leg to be amputated.
"When I reached the sitting room again, I sat on the sofa and, suddenly, I leapt to my feet and the whole house erupted and I was buried under the debris. I was unable to move in any direction and my right leg was lodged on top of the hot coals from the fire."
Mark Ormrod was four months into the tour of duty in Afghanistan when on Christmas Eve, he stepped on an IED landmine.
"The Blesma Support Officer told me that Blesma would help me get going again. He explained all the things they could do to help me and said that I’d be skiing or white-water rafting within a year if I wanted to. It didn’t really seem possible at that moment but I knew it was a turning point."
Darren Swift was injured by an IRA bomb in May 1991 while serving with the Army’s Dog Unit in Belfast.
"I was working with the Army Dog Unit and was feeding my dog when two members of the IRA threw a coffee jar bomb at me. It instantly killed my colleague and good mate, Geordie. I was blown to the floor."
Martin's right arm was paralysed when he was shot in Afghanistan. Now he's aiming to complete the Explorers’ Grand Slam, a challenge that involves summiting the highest peak on each continent.
"I had two life-saving operations in Camp Bastion. I was in a pretty bad place for a while before getting involved in the adventurous stuff, which really helped my rehabilitation."
Army veteran Philip Bailey almost died when he contracted a rare flesh-eating bug at the age of 67. He survived, but only after losing both his legs above the knee.
"The doctors think I got the bug from scraping my shins outside. It kills you if you don’t catch it, and the only remedy, unfortunately, is amputation."
War veteran Nick Beighton lost both his legs in Afghanistan.
"Only six months after injury I was rafting in Colorado. It gave me an idea of what might be possible if I didn’t dwell on the dark side of things. It opened my mind. I went sailing and learned to mono-ski. The Blesma attitude really helped me, and I realised that sport could give me a goal."
Lionel O’Connor lost his left leg above the knee in an attack on his vehicle in Iraq in 2006, which resulted in two of his comrades being killed.
“I was in a Land Rover on a routine patrol when, all of a sudden, there was a big cloud of dust and sparks. I fell backwards – it was like I was in a tumble dryer – and everything went silent."