A wedding gift with a difference

Chatburn war hero Sgt Rick Clements, who lost both his legs in a Taliban bomb blast, has married fiancee Leanne Isaacs in an emotional wedding ceremony.

Rick (31), who was recently on parade in Clitheroe with his comrades as his regiment was granted the freedom of his home borough, was injured when he stepped on a mine whilst on patrol in May 2010.

Just a month after he was called up for a six-month tour of duty of Afghanistan in April 2010, his girlfriend Leanne Isaacs received the devastating call to tell her that Rick was fighting for his life after stepping on a concealed landmine whilst leading a foot patrol in Helmand Province. He had received some of the “worst injuries” that medics treating him had ever seen, with both his legs having been blown off and his arm severely mutilated.

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Sgt Clements, who has been with the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment for 14 years and has served in Iraq, was transferred to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, after Doctors battled to save his life in Afghanistan. As Leanne and his parents raced to be by his side, he died twice on the plane journey home, before spending three weeks in a coma. When he came round, he was told the devastating news that, not only had he lost his limbs, but that he also would never be able to father children.

Although Rick thought his injuries may prove too much for Leanne to bear, she loyally stood by him and supported him through seven months in hospital and further rehabilitation, before they became officially engaged in December.

Just hours before the wedding, the devoted couple were told that they had won their campaign for soldiers to have the right to have their sperm frozen before going on tour of duty.

Leanne (29) said: “It was the best wedding present we could have wished for. It doesn’t change things for us, but this could help thousands of other soldiers in the same position.” She continued: “To be told that the government will advise troops on fertility preservation as a matter of course was amazing. We also believe groin protection may be issued as standard kit, which is so important and means our personal loss could help prevent further tragedy.”

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Of the wedding that the couple thought may never be possible, Rick said: “It was the happiest day of my life. Seeing so many of the soldiers I owe my life to here with me is an absolute honour. Despite everything, I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world.” He went on to describe his new wife as his “rock”: “She is always there when I need her and when I have been upset and angry. We have made it this far and now hopefully, we can put everything behind us.”

Rick is determined to walk on prosthetic limbs, with the help of his rehab team at Headley Court Military Hospital: “It’s going to be a long process, but I’m determined to do it. We are optimistic about the future and can face anything as long as we are together.”