Hero soldier from Wigan backs journey to The Somme
A soldier from Wigan - who saved the life of a comrade blown up by a roadside bomb - is backing an epic journey through the battlefields of the Somme.
Former Royal Veterinary Corps section commander Lee Edwards is supporting a SSAFA fundraiser to retrace the tracks of First World War cycling corps over 230 miles this August.
A five-day expedition is being undertaken in August to support the work of SSAFA, the armed forces charity, which provides assistance to troops on their return from combat.
Lee was serving with his dog Molly in Sangin, in 2009, searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) when a soldier triggered one of the charges.
Even though the former Duke of Lancaster Regiment member was blown into the air, he still managed to regain his senses and assist a badly wounded fellow soldier, for which he later received a Certificate of Commendation.
The day after the blast, Lee returned to the area, with his search dog Molly, and they discovered an bomb factory, which led to four arrests.
But the experience left him with bleeding on the brain, which was not immediately diagnosed, and later post-traumatic stress disorder.
Lee was referred to SSAFA’s mentoring service and benefitted from one-to-one mentoring and support work.
He said: “SSAFA have helped me massively. Andrew (Hawkes) my mentor has helped me out so much. When he first came round I told him what happened to me when I was blown up.
“He was just the right person for me to be matched with. He has given me the confidence to start my own business and to deal with day-to-day life. He’s always just a phone call away and has made me feel like I’m someone again.
“I have had more support from SSAFA since I left the Army than I did when I was in. I thought there was no hope but now I have got my own business, I’ve managed to get onto the property ladder and I’m helping other people.”
He worked for the Operational Training Advisory Team between 2012 and 2015, which oversaw the work of specialist search dogs.
Lee now runs K9 Elite Services, which offers training for search dogs, in Lowton
He added: “Andrew has given me the confidence to start my own business and to deal with day-to-day life. He’s always just a phone call away and has made me feel like I’m someone again.”
The Somme ride begins and ends at the Royal Engineers Museum at Chatham and will culminate in a remembrance act at the Armistice Glade.