A Cardenden father is among the 72-strong team of wounded military personnel and veterans selected to represent the UK at the 2018 Invictus Games.
Michael Mellon, a former senior aircraftsman with the RAF, will travel to Sydney in October for the international adaptive multi-sport event, created by His Royal Highness Prince Harry.
Michael will compete in the sports of wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and sitting volleyball.
The 38-year-old broke his fib and tib while playing rugby for RAF Honington in 2001, which resulted in compartment syndrome in his lower left leg.
Despite having 12 operations over several years, he remained in constant pain due to severe nerve damage so, in 2013, he elected to have his lower leg amputated.
“It was the hardest call of my life but, I’m glad to say, it worked out to be the right call,” he said.
“I get phantom pains a few times a week and there are periods that I can’t wear my prosthetic leg but I’m a lot more active and in less pain than before the amputation.”
After being medically discharged from the RAF, Michael thought his life was over and he has struggled to come to terms with life in ‘Civvy Street’.
Attending Invictus Games training camps though has given him the impetus to get his life back on track.
“Every day I just wished I was still in the RAF and with my friends,” he admitted.
“But I love being with the lads again – I feel like I’m accepted when I’m around them.
“And my eyes have been opened on how people in similar conditions have coped and progressed with their lives; how they cope with pain or feeling down.
“Being more active is a great feeling and takes my mind off the pain.
Michael lost his confidence as well as his career but being part of a team is helping him in both respects.
Since 2005, he has been a house husband and parent while his wife Deborah works as a nursery nurse.
But now their three children – Ryan (12), Eve (11) and Sarah (6) – are all in school, he is beginning to think about finding a job himself.
Unsure of what type of work – “I’d love to work with ex-forces people” – he will be supported in this by Help for Heroes.
This will be Michael’s second Invictus Games. He also represented the UK in Toronto last year. The Sydney Games, staged from October 20-27, will see more than 500 competitors from 18 nations compete in 11 adaptive sports.