SCARCLIFFE: “I thought Craig had been killed”

Craig Preece with wife Allison and children Dillon and Fin.
Craig Preece with wife Allison and children Dillon and Fin.
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Inspirational Craig Preece is thankful to be alive as he cuddles up next to his loving wife and two small children.

Four years after losing one of his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, the 31-year-old knows all too well the nightmares of war.

050313 Help for Heroes launch Hero Ride with Peta Todd, Lorraine Kelly, Jon Allan Butterworth and members of ��Band of Brothers�" at Horse Guards Parade �' the finish line of the biggest cycling demonstration of national support for our wounded.

050313 Help for Heroes launch Hero Ride with Peta Todd, Lorraine Kelly, Jon Allan Butterworth and members of ��Band of Brothers�" at Horse Guards Parade �' the finish line of the biggest cycling demonstration of national support for our wounded.

But Craig, who had to learn how to walk again following the explosion, is determined not to dwell on the horrors of his past.

Far from letting his injury get in the way, the remarkable soldier is preparing to help lead a major cycling fundraiser to aid other wounded war heroes – and compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Craig, of Mansfield Road, Scarcliffe, was severely injured in a Taliban-planted roadside bomb in war-torn Afghanistan in August 2010.

The explosion destroyed his vehicle, killed four other soldiers and left one paralysed.

Craig said: “When I regained consciousness after the blast I looked down and saw the mess of both my legs.

“My training instantly took over and I put tourniquets on my legs to stop the blood pouring out and applied morphine to myself to ease the pain.”

Back home in Derbyshire, Craig’s wife Allison was in the kitchen when she heard a knock at the door.

Teacher Allison, 35, said: “I thought it would be someone selling double glazing but I answered and it was an army official.

“I just froze – I thought my husband had died.”

Two days after receiving urgent medical care in Afghanistan, Craig was flown back to the UK and spent five weeks in hospital where he underwent a series of operations on his legs.

He said: “I was just thankful to be alive.”

With the help of a physiotherapist, determined Craig learned how to walk again – but a few months later medics amputated his right leg below the knee as it was causing him so much pain.

Craig has never let his injury slow him down, having conquered cycling’s Trois Etapes as well as a gruelling Ironman challenge.

And in June he will help lead a major charity bike ride to raise money for Help for Heroes which supports injured troops.

The Hero Ride will see scores of cyclists – led by more than 100 wounded servicemen – descend upon London in a bid to raise £2m for the charity.

Craig, who will cycle from Edingburgh, said: “It promises to be a fantastic event for a brilliant charity which helps all injured soldiers.

“We may be due to pull out of Afghanistan, but there are always going to be soldiers with life-long physical and mental injuries and it’s very important to support them.”

He said his “ultimate aim” is to enjoy cycling success in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Allison paid tribute to her husband, calling him “amazing”.

She added: “Everyone’s so incredibly proud of Craig – he’s a true inspiration.”

Log on to www.justgiving.com/Craig-Preece to sponsor Craig in the Hero Ride.

Find out more about Help for Heroes and its fundraising events at www.helpforheroes.org.uk.