Troops get heroes’ welcome by Sheffield United

Duty: Andy in Army uniform.
Duty: Andy in Army uniform.

BRAVE Army officer Andy Ledger could face a leg amputation after being injured in Afghanistan - but still hopes to return to the front line.

The Lieutenant, aged 27, is among members of The Yorkshire Regiment’s Third Battalion who are special guests at Sheffield United’s match against Hartlepool tomorrow.

The visit was organised after a request Andy made before he was injured, as part of homecoming celebrations for the battalion after their summer tour in Helmand.

Soldiers will be at Bramall Lane with their families and will form a guard of honour for teams coming onto the pitch. A collection will also be held towards an appeal to help battalion members struggling in the aftermath of a difficult tour in which 10 soldiers died.

“It’s a really kind gesture by the club,” Andy said.

The former Henry Fanshawe School pupil, from Dronfield, deployed in August for the second half of the tour, having only just completed training after joining in 2010.

He said: “I was there for two weeks before I was injured. We were training Afghan police. Conditions were difficult because in some areas crops would be a foot above your head. It was like a jungle.

“We focused on engagement with the locals through patrols and shuras, and we made some important gains.”

Describing the blast, which happened in desert in the Nahr-e Saraj area, Andy said: “There was a terrific thud. My hearing was replaced by high-pitched ringing. I started looking to see if everyone was alright. The Afghan next to me had severe leg injuries but I thought I was okay - until I tried to move.”

Andy was evacuated to Camp Bastion then the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for an operation before going on to the Headley Court rehabilitation centre. He had fractures of his left foot, heel and leg, and nerve damage.

Andy, who joined the Army to satisfy a taste for adventure, having previously won a place on an expedition to the South Pole with descendants of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary team, said: “My leg is partially paralysed. I still have some feeling but only pain. I’m having further treatment but it may have to be amputated. It’s immensely frustrating.

“Obviously, I’d like my leg to recover but, if I have to have a prosthetic, I’ll be able to run around once more. Some amputees are even still deployed.

“I’m continuing my recovery and doing a language course. If possible, I’d like to go back to Afghanistan.”