I’m really proud to have been part of Help for Heroes at the beginning and it’s amazing what’s been achieved since.

Craig Dryden

In 2008, aged 22, Craig left the UK to travel the world with his girlfriend. Eventually the couple settled in Malaysia where they trained as diving instructors and ran a diving school. It’s the adventure that many of us dream of, but never pluck up the courage to turn into reality. Having taken the leap, Craig – as a single amputee – faced more challenges than most. “I lost my leg once when swimming off Bondi beach. It was a scary half an hour while we looked for it, but luckily someone found it and we all had a laugh – you must see the funny side. Some things were more difficult as an amputee, but mostly I just got on with it.”

Craig served in the Navy and in 2006 was stationed in Gibraltar where he was bitten by a spider. He developed a blood disorder, spending six months in hospital desperately ill, and his doctors were forced to amputate his leg.

After this, he spent time at Headley Court. One day he and some fellow patients were using the swimming pool in the local town when a member of the public complained about amputees being there. “Someone was pretty rude and said that seeing us would scar her children. Some of the Veterans were really upset. There was lots in the press about it and I think ultimately that was why the first Help for Heroes mission was to raise money for a pool at Headley Court – so that no-one would go through that again.”

Craig was asked to take part in the first Help for Heroes Big Battlefield Bike Ride in 2008. “It was tough but very fun and it was great being part of a team again. It was important to do something so active after losing a limb but I didn’t do it for me; I wanted to raise money to contribute to building the pool because I knew it would help those who came after me.”

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