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26 August 2016, 06:59
An Army veteran from Poole's attempting to become the first above-the-knee amputee to climb one of the world's most dangerous mountains.
35-year-old Neil Heritage lost both legs in Iraq in 2004 and now wears prosthetics.
But since then, he's completed triathlons, learned to ski and rowed across the Atlantic Ocean unsupported in the inaugural Row2Recovery team. Neil tells Heart his latest challenge is climbing the 4,478m (14,692ft) high Matterhorn in Switzerland this weekend.
At the age of 24, former Corporal Neil became the first British soldier to survive an above the knee double amputation after being blown up by a suicide bomber in Basra. Having narrowly survived the explosion and following countless surgical operations Neil was told he would never walk again.
“In the first few years post injury the idea of walking and leading a normal life seemed out of reach. Now being able to attempt this challenge makes me realise how far things have come. I hope it encourages others dealing with physical and mental injuries to follow their dreams and realise there is life beyond injury.”
Neil's being supported by the Endeavour Fund, and will climb with a professional local mountain guide and former British Army soldiers Steve Green and Mark Hooks. The climb is expected to take around two days.
Each year around 300 people attempt to reach the peak with a guide of which many fail. Neil will be climbing using two kinds of specially designed prosthetics. The first set will allow him to climb on rock in the lower section of the Matterhorn and the second set are designed with a crampon style for use on snow and ice.