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Limbless heroes thrilled at scuba diving challenge

In the spirit of Remembrance day we found this story about injured soliders who have found a new lease in life with scuba diving. Big Blue Tech will be observing 2 minutes of silence today along with the rest of the island to show respect for those who paid the ultimate price defending what they believe in.

LIMBLESS ex-servicemen and women have taken the plunge to experience the thrill of scuba diving.

Petty Officer John Strutt is using his skills to help ex-forces men and women who had lost limbs to rediscover their confidence and to give them a chance to take up a new activity.

PO Strutt, who has served in the navy for 15 years, organised a diving weekend on November 1-2 at HMS Collingwood, Fareham, which saw nine members of the British Limbless Ex Servicemen Association (Blesma) take to the pool.

He said: ‘It was very emotional for all of us in different ways.

‘Watching the guys come down with such low confidence and then watching that disappear and the sense of achievement as they developed each skill was unbelievable. Some of them had a life-changing experience.’

The 35-year-old, from Emsworth, added: ‘There were two people there who both said that they can’t go and play football or rugby with their kids, but diving would allow them to bond.’

The weekend involved developing a good swimming stroke for diving, taking the scuba mask on and off under water, learning how to put scuba equipment on and swimming under water.

PO Strutt, a member of Southsea Sub Aqua Club, also got the club secretary Dawn Barnard to help out.

‘I have been diving for 20 years and I never worked with people so determined,’ she said.

One of the participants, Steve Bailey – an amputee of only 14 months – now hopes to join the diving school after the weekend.

Mr Bailey, who worked as a design draughtsmen in the army, had his leg amputated after suffering knee injuries from the gruelling training he had in the forces.

The 51-year-old of Edward Grove, Portchester, said: ‘I used to play hockey and I can’t run anymore, so this was a great way to get active again.I was known as a gladiator in the forces!

‘It was fantastic to not only prove to myself but able bodied people that even though we are minus a limb, when we are in water we are equal.’

Philip ‘Bob’ Monkhouse, trustee for BLESMA, said: ‘It is important to keep amputees motivated. They can easily fall into the cycle of sitting at home and drinking.’

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