A NEWTOWNABBEY soldier who was badly injured while serving in Afghanistan has started his own charity to help children with disabilities.
Lance Corporal Bryan Phillips was on a foot patrol with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in the war-torn country last June when a Taliban improvised explosive device (IED) exploded as he walked past it.
He, along with the rest of his company, then came under fire from enemy troops.
The explosion left Bryan badly injured; he lost both his legs in the blast and was shot.
He told the Times: “I knew almost right away that I had lost my legs so I was more concerned about my hands because they were in a bad shape and I did not want to lose them as well.
“I didn’t really fell any pain, it was more of a burning sensation than anything and I could still feel my legs, despite the fact they were not there anymore and I was trying to crawl away from the enemy fire.”
Despite his injuries the Rathcoole man was only in hospital for two weeks before transferring to a specialist Army rehabilitation centre in Birmingham.
His progress has been astounding, and he is getting used to his new hi-tech hydraulic legs and hopes to take up running on blades.
Bryan continued: “The Army are looking after me very well and I could have just sat around, but I got bored of that.
“I have been trying out all types of new things. Recently I did a parachute jump and just the other week I was mono-skiing and I love getting out on the roads on my hand bike.
“While I may not have the same mobility as I had before, I won’t let it stop me.”
Bryan has already held a number of fundraisers in the past number of months for various charities including the NI Hospice, but he is currently in the process of setting up his own organisation, Stride with Pride, to help children with disabilities.
He added: “I am hoping to do a lot of fundraisers in the coming months, but we are in the process of setting up the charity and working out where the money will go and what exactly we will be doing.
“There are a lot of people out there that are a lot worse off than me and I hope to be able to do what I can to help them.”
He added: “I was in the Army for eight years until my injury and I was intent on serving the full 22 years.
“I loved serving my country and I do miss it now, but this charity has kept me busier than ever and I am enjoying it.”
Bryan’s charity website - www.stridewithpride.org - will be set up in the coming days and will provide information about upcoming fundraising events and how people can support him.