Injured soldiers discover their sea legs

AN IPSWICH soldier injured in the Afghanistan conflict is testing his sea legs by sailing for a week around the English coastline.

AN IPSWICH soldier injured in the Afghanistan conflict is testing his sea legs by sailing for a week around the English coastline.

Colour Sergeant Simon Panter, 38, is joined by 15 other wounded soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, as they set sail on board the 110ft 'Queen Galadriel' vessel to the Channel Islands.

Organised by the Cirdan Sailing Trust, they departed from Portsmouth last Saturday under the supervision of qualified seamen from the Trust, and expect to complete the journey when returning to the south coast this Friday.

Injured while off duty two years ago in Afghanistan, Colour Sergeant Panter has since had two operations on a fractured ankle that has kept him out of action. However, he is now receiving support from the Trust that may lead to his return.

Stationed at Weymouth on Tuesday, Panter said: “I was a bit dubious at first, as I have not got good sea legs, but it is going very well. There is a bit of seasickness at the moment, but we all are coping well.

“We have been learning on the job, such as hoisting sails and pulling the ropes. The journey itself is going according to plan, and now may return to action at some point in the future.”

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Based in Essex, the Cirdan Sailing Trust welcomes the socially, physically or mentally disadvantaged to experience the challenge of life at sea on large sailing vessels.

Nick Back, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: “The Royal Anglians are our local county Regiment and this sailing voyage shows our appreciation of the work they have done and continue to do.

“Taking an active part in the ship's life, living and working alongside out professional crew will no doubt challenge the young men but at the same time provide them with a new environment in which they can develop and rehabilitate.”