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Former soldier Tom Coleridge settles into Chapelford home
4:30pm Thursday 16th August 2012 in News
PEERING through the keyhole of war hero Tom Coleridge's new home, it is easy to see the support he has had since returning from Afghanistan.
The 20-year-old, who was shot while on duty in July 2010, moved to Chapelford four months ago after the Ministry of Defence and David Wilson Homes joined forces to adapt a home especially for him.
Thanks to the help of cash raised by the group Warrington Cares for Tom, the former St Gregory’s RC High School pupil is now looking forward to gaining independence in his new house in Chapelford, Great Sankey, after the bullet caused irreversible damage to his spine.
He said: “Some of the lads have struggled living in bungalows that have been adapted but here everything has been built around me so it’s great.”
The First Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment soldier was shot in the abdomen after his patrol was ambushed in Showal, north of Nad Ali in the west of Helmand Province.
He was in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for four months after losing his right kidney, which he said was in ‘tatters’, suffering a ruptured spleen and damage to his liver before spending eight months in Southport Hospital.
Known to his friends as ‘Captain Colgate’ due to his white smile, Tom is currently living with his dad Garry, aged 46, mum Julie, aged 46, and sister Katie, aged 17, who will all be moving out next year.
Adaptations to Tom’s new pad include doors being widened, a hob which can be moved up and down to make it easier for him to cook, a lift to his bedroom and an en-suite wetroom.
He added: “It was touching to get so much support from people.
“I’m grateful for everything they have done and can’t wait to get out of Headley Court (Army rehabilitation unit) when I’m discharged from the Army in April.”
Tom is now looking to the future after enjoying taking up water skiing and winning a silver medal in bowls at the Spinal Games.
He plans to resit his English GCSE at Priestley College and will be working for Warrington Disability Partnership.
TOM said he can remember everything after he was shot on July 10, 2010.
He said: “We were in the bazaar, which is like the village shopping centre, when we were ambushed and initially I thought it was a sniper.
“The first bullet hit me and left me with two wounds as the bullet went through my side.
“They couldn’t see the second wound at first because my body armour had been soaking up the blood. I couldn’t feel my legs and straight away I knew.
“I was dragged to a helipad to Camp Bastion and then woke up three weeks later.
“I thought I was in Afghanistan when I first woke up and looked round wondering why everyone was round my bed.
“It was horrible but I was lucky.
“The first thing I asked was who won the World Cup final because I was shot the day before. I said ‘who shoots a person the day before the World Cup final?’
“I was training during my 18th birthday and in hospital for my 19th so I’m looking forward to a big do for my 21st in November.”