A 23 Pioneer Regiment soldier who lost both legs after his vehicle was blown up in Afghanistan has become one of the first through the doors at the Army’s newest recovery centre.
Private Josh Campbell, 21, spent 11 days in a coma after his Mastiff armoured vehicle was caught in the blast from an improvised explosive device planted by the Taliban.
Pte Campbell, who proudly took part in 23 Pioneer’s 2009 homecoming parade after his injury, is one of the first soldiers to have used the new Tedworth House Personnel Recovery and Assessment Centre (PRAC) in Tidworth Garrison, Wiltshire.
Help for Heroes has committed £32million to the renovation and running of Tedworth House, while the MoD has pledged a further £93million over the next nine years to support injured personnel and their loved ones.
The new centre, and several others like it around the country, will give comprehensive support to personnel and their families for life.
Speaking on his arrival at the new centre earlier this summer, Pte Campbell said: “It’s been really tough since I was injured in 2009 but the treatment I received at Selly Oak and Headley Court has been brilliant and the support I get from the Personnel Recovery Unit has been fantastic.
“I am also grateful for the assistance I’ve received from Help for Heroes and I’m really looking forward to taking advantage of all the great support facilities Tedworth House has to offer.”
This week, Pte Campbell said: “It’s going brilliantly. I’m up and running and making use of the gym facilities, and it’s nice to be moving faster again.”
He is now using running blades, like those used by South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, to work on his fitness.
Although he does not have to stay overnight at Tedworth House because his family home is so close by, Pte Campbell still visits three times a week to use the gym.
He also looks forward to visiting his comrades at Bicester Garrison about once a month, and helps as a volunteer at his local Help for Heroes office.
“I pop in when I can to do a little bit. Because they’ve done so much for me I want to return the favour,” said Pte Campbell.
Renovation work is due to be completed in spring next year and, when open, the centre will be able to provide residential accommodation and support for up to 50 wounded, injured and sick personnel from the three services.
Key facilities such as temporary residential accommodation, classrooms, catering facilities and a gym are already up and running.
Bryn Parry, co-founder of Help for Heroes, said: “When I think back to October 2007 when we first started in the Tidworth Tin Hut, the thing I always remember is driving past Tedworth House on the way to work and thinking, wouldn’t it be great if that could be a recovery centre for the guys and girls.
“It’s been an incredible effort on all fronts to get it ready in such a quick space of time but to know that in a few days the first residents will be in is fantastic.
“It’s a truly awesome moment for myself and Emma and everyone who has worked so hard to make this moment possible.”
Tedworth House is one of five personnel recovery centres that form the Army Recovery Capability, a joint multi-million pound venture between the MOD, Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.
Brigadier Mike Griffiths, director of Army personnel services, said the new centres represent a significant enhancement to the way wounded and sick personnel are cared for.
He said: “It ensures that our personnel have access to the right care, support and resources at the right time to enable them to either return to duty or transition to an appropriately skilled and supported civilian life.
“Tedworth House will be the first PRAC to be delivered and its facilities will provide the support that enables our personnel to focus on their recovery.
“It is ideally located as it allows our recovering personnel to take advantage of the full range of facilities already available from within the garrison, including welfare, medical, rehabilitation and education, which are vital in aiding the recovery process.”
Chris Simpkins, director general of the Royal British Legion, said: “The Royal British Legion stands shoulder to shoulder with all who serve, so the Legion’s support for the Army Recovery Capability is central to our welfare strategy in this our 90th year, and well beyond.
“We are delighted that we will be contributing to the operating costs of PRAC Tidworth, and providing welfare support and advice to residents. We support the men and women who have given so much for our country - whether they return to duty or move into civilian life.
“That is what the Legion has been doing for 90 years. The wounded, injured and sick deserve nothing less. The Royal British Legion will continue to support them, and their families, for the rest of their lives.”