A BRAVE soldier who faces the prospect of losing his leg after a helicopter accident in Afghanistan has won a national award.
Gunner Dean Morris’s left knee was shattered when his team came under fire trying to evacuate a casualty in Helmand Province in 2011.
The injury ended his nine-year career in the Royal Artillery.
However, the father-of-one has gone on to rebuild his life through motor sport and has inspired other wounded soldiers to do the same.
Mr Morris, originally from Tonge Moor, has had 13 operations to reconstruct his knee, but knows it is only a matter of time before doctors have to amputate his leg.
However, he says making the transition from military life to civilian life was harder than the dealing with the pain of the injury.
Mr Morris, aged 27, said: “We were evaluating a casualty and it all got a bit fast and furious. The helicopter had to lift and was caught in someone else’s kit and they had to cut me away.
“I fell on my knee with about 180kg of kit and all of my body weight. The knee was destroyed and would never be the same again.
“I had been in the Army for nine years and I had always been a fitness fanatic. I played rugby for the regiment as well as the team in Salisbury. I loved snowboarding too.
“But after the accident, I knew I would never do any of that again and it was very difficult to come to terms with.”
At “rock-bottom” in 2011, Mr Morris started a defence recovery placement with service charity Mission Motorsport, which helps wounded and poorly soldiers find a future in the motor industry.
When he was sent home to Salisbury on sick leave, his wife, Kelda, gave birth to their first child Nikita, now aged two.
However, his injury meant he was in and out of a wheelchair and not able to carry Nikita in his arms.
Mr Morris said: “I couldn’t carry her upstairs or bath her by myself for the first year.
“It meant I couldn’t care for her independently and that was really tough.”
He added: “I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my wife.
“Before I started at Mission Motorsport I was either sat at home in a chair or in my wheelchair.
“I started as a beneficiary but over the past year I’ve stayed on to help other lads in a similar situation as myself.
“Now I’m training again and determined to stay in shape.
“I will have to have more operations on my knee, but I know it’s only a matter of time before they have to amputate. In a way I’m ready for that — I said to doctors last year to get on with it and do it, but they want to wait.”
Mr Morris was nominated for the Daily Mirror’s Soldiering On awards by Mission Motorsport and he was presented with the accolade by the charity’s patron Sir Stirling Moss in London on Saturday.
Mr Morris has now been medically discharged from the Army and works full-time in classic and historic vehicle logistics.