Amputee to lead fundraising walk over Balmoral hills after Queen e-mail

A veteran who endured a double amputation after being blown up in Afghanistan is to lead a charity walk over the hills at Balmoral after the Queen gave her personal permission for the fundraiser.

Veteran Duncan Slater, who had his legs amputated following an explosion in Afghanistan in 2009, will lead the Balmoral Challenge for Walking With The Wounded next summer. PIC Walking WithThe Wounded.

Duncan Slater, a former sergeant in the Royal Air Force regiment from Muir of Ord, Highland, said the trek would be one of his biggest challenges yet given that the most difficult route will cover three Munros in a single day.

The fundraiser, for Walking With The Wounded, a charity that gets veterans back into work, hopes to attract 400 entrants to the heart of Deeside on Armed Forces Day next June.

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Mr Slater, 37, turned to extreme fitness challenges following his amputation in a bid to return - at least in part - to the life he once knew.

Veteran Duncan Slater takes to the hills around Balmoral PIC Walking WithThe Wounded.

The veteran, who also broke his back in the explosion in Helmand Province, said throwing himself into tough physical regimes had been a key factor in his recovery.

Mr Slater said: “At 31, I was confined to a wheelchair and the difference in my life was like night and day.

“For anyone who has had a life changing injury, you are going completely to the other end of what you know.

“I missed the physical challenge of the military and I struggled with the readjustment. It is like you are leading a watered down version of your existence.

Veteran Duncan Slater takes to the hills around Balmoral PIC Walking WithThe Wounded.

“It was the frustration element that got me to start pushing myself again.”

Returning home following the explosion, which had been timed to take out the command vehicle on the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) patrol, Mr Slater said he found it difficult to be “wrapped up in cotton wool” by those who cared for him the most.

Following his amputation, a friend suggested a fundraising cycle form Lands End to John O’ Groats - and he immediately agreed.

He said: “I did that stupid bloke thing and went for it, no real plan, just a couple of numpties who met in Penzance. I had a rubbish bike, a couple of panniers and a sense of humour. That was about it.

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“To be honest, we did it in about 10 days. It was nuts. And that is when I came into contact with Walking With The Wounded.”

With his appetite for adventure seriously raised, Mr Slater signed up to a North Pole expedition with the charity, which he completed.

To follow was the Marathon des Sables - which involves seven marathons across the Sahara Desert in six days - but the conditions were enough to topple the ex-serviceman.

After walking for five days across sand in prosthetic legs - which he absolutely “trashed” - Mr Slater called it a day.

But with new legs currently being designed, he is to return to the desert next April to start the challenge from scratch.

All being well, Slater will lead a team through the hills around Balmoral on the weekend of Armed Forces Day -Saturday, June 24 - next year.

The Queen’s grandson, Prince Harry, is patron of the charity which will organise three routes through the hills. The first - The Triple Crown - will cover 20.5 miles over three Munros with two shorter walks also arranged, one which is suitable for families.

Slater added: “The walk is in an amazing location. We were up there checking out the different routes and met the estate manager, We never thought we would get unrestricted access to the estate.

“Then a couple of weeks later we got an email from the Palace saying the Queen had given her explicit permission for the walk. You don’t get an email like that every day.”

For more information visit walkingwiththewounded.org.uk

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