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Afghanistan War 11th Anniversary: Amputee Marine Looks To The Future

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While many will be looking back over the years of fighting and the lives lost, as the 11th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan passes, one former Royal Marine is looking ahead instead.

Andy Grant was just 20 when he was blown up by an IED in Helmand Province.

He woke up two weeks later in Britain, starting the long road to recovery, but was then faced with the tough decision to have his leg amputated.

andy grant

Andy Grant, who was just 20 when he was blown up by an IED in Helmand Province

Now 24, the father of two is carving out a new life and a new career as a motivational speaker.

As the 11th anniversary comes round Mr Grant, who lives in Liverpool with partner Leonie Cull, 26, and their son Payton, six, and four-year-old daughter Brooke, has mixed feelings about it.

"I agree with the reasons why we were in Afghanistan, to stop terrorism and stuff like that," he said.

"When I was out there, where we were based we were doing a really good job and the country has made good steps.

"But in my opinion we should bring the lads home now, because although we have improved the country and improved security we should let the Afghans get on with it now.

"Enough's enough, there's a lot of lads being killed and even more being injured.

"It would just be nice when you don't have to look at the news and see another coffin being brought off the plane."

Mr Grant faced adversity from an early age - when he was 12 his mother died after battling leukaemia.

After joining the Royal Marines he served in Iraq before serving with 45 Commando Royal Marines on Herrick 9 - the deployment from October 2008 to April 2009 - in Helmand Province.

But in February 2009, aged just 20, he was critically injured when a trip wire attached to two IEDs was triggered.

Mr Grant woke up two weeks later at the Ministry of Defence's Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, then at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital.

He had suffered 27 separate injuries, stayed in hospital for a further three months, and for the next 18 months was in and out of the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, Surrey.

But wounds to his right leg did not heal as well as hoped, and he was forced into deciding whether to have his leg amputated.

"They offered me the chance to have an amputation straight away but there was also the chance to have a cage put around my leg in the hope it would recover and help me grow back the bone I had lost."

Desperate for his leg to heal, he ended up using the cage for 14 months, but the damage proved too bad.

"I wasn't leading the life I wanted to lead, I couldn't do sports, I couldn't run around with the kids. I couldn't do normal things I wanted to do.

"I'm a realist, I knew it was never going to be the same, I just hoped it would heal so I could lead a relatively normal life.

"But even though I had my leg I still faced a completely different life and after 15-16 months I started to really consider having the amputation.

"My dad didn't want me to have it done at all. But it wasn't the life I wanted to lead, there were a lot of arguments and disagreements."

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But on November 25, 2010, aged 22, Mr Grant had his right leg amputated just below the knee.

"I've had a couple of setbacks, and there's still bad days, but I'm playing football again, I'm able to run about, the kids keep me busy and we've got a 10-month-old Labrador to walk twice a day."

He was medically discharged from the Royal Marines in May this year and has started his own company offering motivational speaking.

"It involves talking about everything, losing my mum, joining the Marines, being blown up, deciding to have my leg amputated - everything really.

"Mine is quite a unique story as well, and I have learned a lot about myself."

Thanks to charity Help for Heroes, Mr Grant has managed to have a whole range of experiences, from surfing in California to abseiling the Shard in London a few weeks ago.

"Help for Heroes have created a sort of Band of Brothers. It gives lads a chance to get together, and that's when soldiers are going to talk to each other.

"My plan is now to keep on going round the world telling my story and what I have learned from it and to keep pushing myself and challenging myself to show that there's a life beyond injury and the situation we are put in doesn't have to define the person I am.

"It's all about overcoming adversity. I want to use all the opportunities that are presented to me, and to push the boundaries.

"There's a life after Afghanistan, and a life after the Marines."

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