Army veteran Tom Folwell from Lincolnshire, who was blown up in Afghanistan, has met Help for Heroes’ latest signing — England manager Gareth Southgate, who has been announced as the charity’s new patron.
Ahead of flying out to Qatar with his World Cup squad, Southgate met with veterans who’ve been supported by Help for Heroes and pledged his support to the military charity.
Tom, 37, who lives in Horncastle, shared his story and about how Help for Heroes is helping him live well after service. The former sapper was on a routine foot patrol in Helmand Province when he lost both his legs and four fingers on his left hand after an IED (improvised explosive device) blast.
At the Invictus Games in The Hague this year, Tom captained Team UK’s Wheelchair Rugby and Basketball squads as well as competing in Sitting Volleyball.
Tom, originally from Melton Mowbray, added: “I think Gareth will really understand how soldiers feel when they suffer life changing injuries with all his football experience. Military careers can end overnight just like those of footballers.”
Speaking on his new role, Gareth said: “My sense of identity and values is closely tied to my family and particularly my grandad. He was a fierce patriot and a proud military man, who served during World War II. Because of him, I’ve always had an affinity for the military and service in the name of your country.
“Both footballers and service personnel can find their careers cut short due to injury, a prospect which can affect them not only physically but and mentally too. The inability to function or perform in the same way after injury can often cause significant mental challenges, loss of identity and impact their prospects.”