A mounted soldier told he would never walk again following a bomb attack in Afghanistan today told of his joy at being back in the saddle.
Lance Corporal of Horse Tim Baker, 26, was in an armoured vehicle four years ago when it hit an explosive, killing his friend and leaving him critically injured.
The soldier was heartbroken when doctors said he’d never walk again and his dream job of being in the Household Cavalry was over.
But LCoH Baker, whose back was broken in two places in the attack, beat the odds and not only returned to full health – but has returned to work.
Today he is back in the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment’s Life Guard Squadron, carrying out ceremonial duties including the Queen’s Birthday parade and the state opening of Parliament.
The Cavalryman from Caistor St Edmund, Norfolk, said: “I joined the Household Cavalry at 16 and it is all I can ever remember wanting to do.
“When I was told I would never return to full fitness and my career was over I was determined to prove them wrong, and through sheer determination I did it.
“I just wouldn’t accept it and I thought ‘we’ll see about that.’ I was determined to prove them wrong and worked as hard as I could to get my fitness back.”
The father-of-one explained: “We hit either a IED or a Russian legacy mine and our vehicle flew up into the air.
“I managed to turn the engine off before I passed out. I just remember waking up on a stretcher, waiting for a helicopter.
“I don’t remember a lot about what happened that day. I don’t think I ever thought I would die but I remember there knowing I was in a bad way.”
The incident, which killed LCoH Baker’s friend Trooper Ratu Babakobau, happened on May 2 2008 in Nowzad area of Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
After 6 weeks of treatment in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, and an extensive recovery period of physiotherapy at Combermere Barracks, Windsor, LCoH Baker passed his fitness tests to work as normal in 2010.
LCoH Baker’s mother, Julie Watson, said she was devastated when she was told about her son’s accident and that she is thrilled he is back to full health.
She said: “He wanted to be a soldier since he was a toddler. I was very proud when he got into the Household Cavalry and I’m extremely proud of how he has overcome his injuries.”
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is made up of the two most senior regiments of the British Army – The Life Guard Squadron and the Blues and Royal Horse Guard and First Dragoons.
It carries out mounted, and some dismounted,ceremonial duties on both State and Royal occasions.
LCoH Baker is married to Danielle, with whom he has a four-year-old son Harvey.