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  1. ITV Report

Chorley bomb blast veteran defies the odds with Help for Heroes

Anthony Cooper Credit: Help For Heroes

A veteran from Lancashire who lost both his legs and a suffered a severe brain injury in Afghanistan is fronting a new Help for Heroes campaign to persuade more seriously injured service-people to seek support.

Anthony Cooper suffered one of the most severe brain injuries his doctors had seen in 25 years after he was injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan at the age of 22 - he lost both his legs above the knee and is now registered blind.

At one point he wasn't expected to survive. Now, he's learning to walk again and excelling in sport.

A military career had been a long-term goal for Anthony, who joined the air cadets at 15 and the Army at 16.

I'd wanted to do it my whole life. To serve Queen and country. I knew I was training to go to war. But when you do go, it's totally different.

– Anthony Cooper
Anthony before the he was injured Credit: Help For Heroes

The former Kingsman, 32, from Chorley is appearing in Help for Heroes' new Never Say Never campaign about improving the quality of life for very seriously injured veterans.

Anthony, who served with the Duke of Lancaster Regiment, was deployed to Afghanistan and in 2010, he was on foot patrol in Helmand Province when an IED went off beneath him.

He was medically evacuated back to the UK and put in an induced coma.

Doctors told his family not to hold out any hope, and within days, his organs began shutting down.

But, despite losing his right eye in the explosion and suffering the worst brain injury the seen in 25 years, Anthony pulled through.

Facing a new life as a double amputee with a brain injury, Anthony had a monumental task ahead of him and he attempted to take his own life.

But with support, Anthony, now 31, is discovering that there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Anthony is a Warrior Games medal winner, competed in wheelchair racing and archery at the Invictus Games UK Trials in Sheffield last year and has signed up for the Manchester Half Marathon in October.

Coming forward for support is probably the best thing you can do. I'm blind and I've got a head injury, but the support network through Help for Heroes is the best.

– Anthony Cooper
Anthony Cooper in hospital Credit: Help For Heroes

The military charity has created a programme of support for wounded veteran with injuries so severe, they are wholly dependent on round-the-clock care.

Speech and language therapy, specialist equipment, welfare advice, adaptive sports, education and career guidance are available to veterans while families can access psychological help, peer support and highly skilled family and welfare key workers.

In 2017, Help for Heroes was awarded a three-year grant of £1.5 million, funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR funds, to directly improve the quality of life of very seriously injured veterans and their families.

Phillip Hall, Very Seriously Injured (VSI) Veterans Clinical Case Manager at Help for Heroes, said: "The VSI veterans programme allows us to deliver bespoke support for our most seriously-injured veterans with life-limiting injuries, to improve the quality of life for them and their families.

"It's our mission at Help for Heroes to fight for and support every single wounded veteran who needs help. For our very seriously injured veterans, that means helping them learn to feed themselves, speak again, or reduce their social isolation and get out of the house. Many of these guys were told they would never walk again, never talk again and never live independently again. But with the right support, they are defying the odds."