Corporal begins gruelling Dakar challenge

Monday 07 January 2013 Updated: 09/01 08:58

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Buy photos » Corporal Tom Neathway, Justin Birchall and Corporal Phillip Gillespie prepare to head off from Lima. (s)

A WORCESTER soldier who lost both his legs and his left arm in battle hopes to be part of the first ever disability team to complete the world's toughest motor race.

Corporal Tom Neathway is a member of the Race2Recovery rally team which is raising funds to help the rehabilitation of injured service men and women by competing in the gruelling Dakar Rally in South America.

The team - made up of predominantly injured soldiers - set off from Lima in Peru on Saturday morning (January 5) at the beginning of a punishing 15 days of racing 9,000km across extreme mountain and desert terrain.

The journey will take them through southern Peru, across the border into Argentina, and into Chile where they hope to cross the finish line in Santiago on Sunday, January 20.

Corp Neathway joined the Parachute Regiment in 2001 but during his last tour of Afghanistan he triggered a booby trap and the blast resulted in the loss of both his feet. Infection of his wounds led to the amputation of both his legs and his left arm.

He still works with the Parachute Regiment and is a co-driver for one of the Race2Recovery team's race cars.

Speaking before the group's departure he said: "The Dakar Rally is the biggest, toughest rally raid 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 race vehicle on the start line."

"My family and friends back in Worcester and across the UK have been very supportive and I’ll do them proud. 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 Race2Recovery team has risen to become a fully functioning team in only 18 months.

They began their campaign with one Land Rover Freelander and a handful of members but the team now totals 28 people with four Wildcat race vehicles and a fleet of support vehicles including a 4x4 truck that will race the course to support the race cars.

There will also be support trucks and a number of Land Rover Discovery vehicles to help move the support team and equipment.

The team is raising money for Tedworth House Personnel Recovery Centre, one of six Personnel Recovery Centres that have been established as part of the Defence Recovery Capability.

Its role is to ensure wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women have access to the key resources they need as they recover.

To follow the Race2Recovery team’s progress or to make a donation to the fund-raising effort visit www.race2recovery.com or to donate £5 via mobile text RACE20 £5 to 70070.

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