A WORCESTER soldier who lost both his legs and his arm during his last tour of Afghanistan is part of a rally team of predominantly injured soldiers aiming to become the first disability teams to complete the Dakar Rally.
Race2Recovery’s four Wildcat race vehicles will take to the start line in Lima, Peru, this morning, signalling the start of 15 days of racing 9,000km over extreme mountain and desert terrain that will take them through southern Peru, across the border into Argentina, and finally travelling into Chile where they hope to cross the finish line in Santiago on Sunday, January 20.
The group is raising money for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre, one of six that have been established as part of the Defence Recovery Capability.
Corporal Tom Neathway, of Worcester, is a co-driver for one of the team’s race cars.
He joined the Parachute Regiment in 2001 but on his last tour of Afghanistan he triggered a booby trap and the subsequent blast resulted in the loss of both his feet.
An infection of his wounds led to amputation of both his legs and his left arm but he still works with the Parachute Regiment and earlier this year carried the Olympic Torch through Worcester as part of the Olympic Torch Relay.
Speaking from Lima ahead of the start of the race, Cpl Neathway said: “The Dakar Rally is the biggest, toughest rally race on the planet and this is going to be such a memorable experience. The whole Race2Recovery team has worked incredibly hard and there will be a real sense of pride when I’m sitting in the vehicle on the start line.
“We want to show that, even if you have an injury, illness or you’re facing adversity, you can still challenge yourself and achieve the extraordinary.”
The team has received support from a host of celebrities and sport stars and Chelsea Football Club also sent a message of support to Cpl Neathway, who is a lifelong fan of the club.
Race2Recovery has also received royal backing after it became the first ever recipient of a grant from the Endeavour Fund in November, set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
To follow their progress or to make a donation, visit race2recovery.com or to donate £5 via mobile text RACE20 £5 to 70070.