Soldier Sean’s remarkable tale of recovery

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A brave soldier who suffered horrific injuries during a grenade attack in Afghanistan will run, swim and cycle from London to Paris to raise cash for the charity that helped him recover.

Lance Corporal Sean Donlan, of Gomersal, endured a series of operations in 2011 after shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade left him almost paralysed down one side, deaf in one ear and unable to talk.

Now - after undergoing a procedure to remove part of his skull and intensive speech and physiotherapy - the Batley Bulldogs fan is preparing to take on a gruelling 300-mile triathlon.

The Enduroman Arch to Arc race includes an 87-mile run from Marble Arch to Dover, a swim across the English Channel and a 181-mile cycle race to the Arch de Triomphe in Paris.

LCpl Donlan, 27, will take part in the race alongside an exclusive team of other wounded servicemen and women, who have been supported by charity Help for Heroes.

He said: “It’s amazing to join the team

“It’s great to raise money for the charity that has helped me and that I always try my hardest for and just to make the team itself has made me a happy person.

“Training gets me out and about.

“It’s not easy training but it’s very enjoyable once you have finished.”

It will be the first time that a disabled team has attempted the triathlon, which starts tomorrow.

The group have been training for the race for nine months and have taken part in various events including intensive water camps to prepare for the English Channel swim.

Cash raised from the event will go towards the charity’s Phoenix House Recovery Centre in Catterick.

Mark Airey, Help for Heroes’ strength and Conditioning coordinator, said taking part in training and the race could also benefit wounded veterans in everyday life.

He said: “It’s fantastic that the group have come so far to this point, and that we’re able to share the team and encourage the public to support them ahead of next month and the start of this epic challenge.

“Sport provides optimism, self-belief and confidence in what can be achieved, and this is proven to be of particular importance to this group.

“All of these benefits can be translated outside of sport and into day to day life, sport helps with coping strategies and resilience – which is so important on an individual’s recovery journey.”

LCpl Donlan also took part in the four-day 260-mile Hero Ride cycle challenge - from Catterick to Windsor - last month, as part of his recovery.

Visit the charity’s website www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ArchtoArc for more information or to donate to Sean’s efforts.