Ipswich: Liam vows to walk again after Afghan bomb horror

IPSWICH: Tributes have been paid to a “fantastic lad and a great soldier” who is recovering in hospital after suffering devastating injuries in Afghanistan.

Former Stoke High School pupil Liam King was on his first tour as part of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, based in Colchester, when he was involved in a blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) to the south of Nahr-e-Saraj in Helmand province on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old private was so badly injured that both his legs had to be amputated at the knee and he has lost his thumb and part of a finger on his left hand.

Fellow soldier Private Martin Bell, 24, was killed in the same blast – making him the 350th soldier to die in Afghanistan – while two other Paras were also severely injured.

Liam, of Fitzwilliam Close, was flown back from Camp Bastion on Wednesday to receive specialist treatment from doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

But he surprised mum Lorraine Hutchings and girlfriend Steph Ziza by opening his eyes and talking to them yesterday afternoon despite undergoing another six hours of surgery the previous day.

Lorraine, 42, said: “I’m very proud of him. Obviously when I got the knock on the door, my legs just turned to jelly, but being told that he was still alive was a big relief.

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“It’s only been 48 hours since everything happened and he’s already being really positive. He’s a strong-minded lad anyway and it’s been nice to see him awake and talking to us.”

Liam has been told the severity of his injuries but has vowed he will walk again one day.

Stepdad Steve Hutchings, who stayed behind to look after Liam’s brother and two sisters, said: “He’s such a strong-willed lad and I’m so proud to be his stepdad. I couldn’t be more proud of him and nor could his grandad Glen.

“He’s done us all proud. He’s one in a million.”

Liam, who flew out to Afghanistan for the first time last October, had been back to visit his family in Chantry for two weeks this month, and had only rejoined his unit on January 15.

“He had a few days at home,” added Steve,

“And although he wasn’t looking forward to going back, he said he wanted to go because his mates and colleagues were out there.

“He’s a fantastic lad and a great soldier.”

Dozens of friends and family have been posting messages of support on Liam’s Facebook page wishing him well, while Regimental Sergeant Major Alan Armstrong, went to visit him in hospital earlier this week.

n Would you like to pay tribute to Liam or to the rest of our armed services? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk