Remembrance Day "Still the most important day of the year"
The only thing Jonny Holloway ever wanted to do was be a soldier. It transformed his life for the better and then, one day, it tragically changed his life for the worse.
“Waiting for my 12th birthday, so I could join the Army Cadets, felt like forever but it was definitely worth it! I loved it and, five years later, in August 2009, I joined the Army. I was just 17 years old.
“In 2013, I deployed on my first tour of Afghanistan. It was one of the last for British Forces, and I was tasked with defending other troops who were closing down the camps and bases.
“I was injured in March 2014 when the vehicle I was in drove over an Improvised Explosive Device and was blown into the air. As it landed, we came under enemy fire. It makes me feel short of breath thinking about it!
“My left foot felt like it was on fire. The force of the explosion had ripped straight through my left leg, shattering everything in its way.
“My fellow soldiers got me to safety but the blast had mangled my leg and had given me a brain injury. It has affected my short-term memory and concentration, and it damaged my right eye to such an extent that I can no longer see out of it.”
As a young father and new husband, Jonny's calendar is littered with reminders for family birthdays and anniversaries. But Remembrance Day is still one of the most meaningful events in his year.
"Every Remembrance Day, I attend my local church service and take part in the parade. I wear my poppy with pride! Remembrance Day is an important part of my life; I’ve had friends killed in action, friends injured in action, and friends who have taken their own life because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s my time to think of them, and to pay my respects to anyone who has ever served in the Armed Forces.
Remembrance Day is an important time to think about family, too. One thing that affected me greatly was meeting the parents of a friend who was killed on operations. My injury has affected my family, so during Remembrance Day my thoughts are with the families of loved ones who have been taken or injured.
For me, Remembrance is a time to support each other. Every year, I get in touch with people I served with and people I met during my rehabilitation. I’ll always meet up with a close friend who is a double amputee and fellow Blesma Member, and we’ll go to parades together. It’s a network of support that means I don’t feel so alone.
I get extremely anxious in the run-up to Remembrance Day because I know that I’m going to have a really hard time. All the memories and feelings from the day I was injured always come flooding back.
I work in a school, so I make sure the pupils show their respect by wearing a poppy. Last Remembrance, I decided to give a talk because a teacher told me many of the pupils didn’t understand why they wore poppies. I think it’s important that future generations understand the sacrifices that others have made.
I fought for two years to try to save my leg. I thought I could prove the doctors wrong but it was a dark time for me mentally and physically. In 2016, I made the decision to amputate my left leg below the knee. My life is mostly positive now. I still have days when I struggle, but I know that I would be in a worse place if it wasn’t for Blesma."
Make a Donation
This Remembrance Day, please spare a thought to our limbless veterans as they remember the moment that changed their lives forever.
In particular, please take a moment to remember those who have lost their limbs, the use of their limbs, or their sight whilst protecting our country. They have made huge sacrifices defending our freedom and now need our life-long support. With this in mind, please consider making a Remembrance Day gift to Blesma, The Limbless Veterans.
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