LAST year Private Craig Winspear lost his legs in Afghanistan but at the Paralympic Closing Ceremony he walked again in front of a global audience.
Pte Winspear, of 23 Pioneer Regiment, in Bicester, was one of 16 injured service personnel to take part in the Paralympic closing ceremony.
The group pushed a metal platform, designed to resemble a historic gun carriage, from which a serviceman climbed, jumped and released a Union Jack.
Pte Winspear, 30, said: “Being in the centre, with 80,000 people surrounding you and billions watching you on TV was just amazing.”
He was offered the opportunity by Help for Heroes and is part of the forces charity’s Band of Brothers, a support network for injured service personnel.
Pte Winspear said: “I wanted to take the opportunity because I will never get to do anything like that again.
“I could not take part in the Paralympics this year and this was the best way of me taking part.”
Although he only began walking again in July, he now hopes to start training in the coming months to take part in the next Paralympic Games.
The dad-of-one hopes to win gold in wheelchair basketball and the discus and hammer throwing events.
Pte Winspear lost his legs in Afghanistan in December, 2011. He was following a wire from a Taliban bomb when his foot slipped and he stepped on a second hidden improvised explosive devise. He awoke at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham a week later.
After spending the last few months in rehabilitation at Headley Court in Surrey, he will today be fitted for a new set of prosthetic legs.
He said: “It is amazing to think about the progress I have made. I do not know if I can describe it in words.”
Last Friday, Pte Winspear celebrated his 30th birthday with his partner Hayley Willson at their home in Bicester.
A Puma helicopter from RAF Benson took part in the Olympic and Paralympic victory parade in London yesterday.
'A privilege to support top athletes'
Headington sports masseur Chris Chesterman has spent an “unforgettable” 20 days at the Olympics and Paralympics, getting his hands on some of the world’s most famous athletes.
Father-of-two Mr Chesterman, who also coaches Oxford City FC’s under nine team, said: “Just watching the world’s elite Paralympic athletes and helping them was a huge honour and privilege. I was deeply struck by how thankful they were for the services we offered them.
The highlight had to be being the only person invited by the South African coach to be their guest on Saturday night for their appreciation of my help – and getting to spend time with Oscar Pistorius.”
Physiotherapist Stephanie Smith is also just “coming back down to earth” after working at the Games. The 34-year-old owner of Pea Green Physio in Bicester said: “It’s been an experience I shall never forget.”