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Prince Harry tells double-amputee Atlantic rower 'you're a lunatic'

Published 11/11/2015

Prince Harry and Ed Parke, co-founder of Walking With The Wounded, holding the Endeavour Trophy
Prince Harry and Ed Parke, co-founder of Walking With The Wounded, holding the Endeavour Trophy

Prince Harry told a double-amputee who is planning to row across the Atlantic for the second time that he is "an absolute lunatic".

Former solider Harry was speaking at a reception for the Endeavour Fund, a project led by his and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Royal Foundation, where he stepped up the drive to help wounded service personnel through sport and adventure.

Drinking a beer after his speech, in which he paid tribute to the service personnel who "refuse to be beaten or defined by their injuries," he told Cayle Royce, 29, from Dartmouth in Devon, that he was mad to be rowing across the ocean again.

Trooper Royce, who lost both his legs in Afghanistan in 2012 and subsequently spent 48 days in a coma, is part of the first all-amputee team to row across the Atlantic, but did complete the row for the first time just 18 months after his injury.

He said: "I met Harry when I completed the row for the first time and he recognised me and told me I was an absolute lunatic for doing it again.

"You consider a lot more when you lose limbs. Having these rows to aim for really pushed me to work hard and it's only through the Endeavour Fund and seeing guys constantly generate interest in people like us that it's possible."

Joining Trooper Royce in the boat is Former Irish Guardsman Paddy Gallagher, who said: "Having this injury has inspired me to do the normal things around the house again. If I can get through this, then I get milk from the shop.

"The teamwork helps you feel normal again, and that's something we are used to in the military - a tight-knit team."

In his speech, Prince Harry spoke of how he was hoping those in need would rediscover their sense of purpose through sport.

He said: "For some people, the struggle to move beyond injury or past experience continues. They suffer in silence, unwilling or unaware of which way to turn for help; for whatever reason they have become 'the hard to reach'. No longer accessible through the traditional networks, as they have gone to ground, believing that the right help isn't out there for them, or it's all just too confusing and complicated.

"In this next phase of the Endeavour Fund, we will be asking those who have taken part in previous endeavours to take a leading role in future challenges as project managers but more significantly to act as peer mentors, forming a support network for those veterans who have not found the impulse to come forward.

"Those who have spent time in the military are proud to acknowledge that they are defined by that service. To describe yourself as a soldier, sailor or airman means something. But when that is taken away through injury or illness, sometimes that definition of self and all that goes with it can become a negative, anchoring you to the past."

The reception also heard from Chris Herbert, who was wounded in Iraq in 2007. He told how he did not want to get involved with sport at first, but said sailing made a huge difference to his life.

"I really struggled with being angry (after his injury), feeling like it was my fault and that I was not there with my friends. It made me really angry that I had to go through so much pain to walk again.

"After I was injured, I felt extremely lost and angry with the world. Getting involved with Toe in the Water was my catharsis.

"Once again, I was back in a team environment, with people who understood what I had and was going through and could support me in this difficult transitional period. This supportive environment helped me to change how I defined myself and my outlook on my future."

"The catalyst to me developing and my ability to get back into society was sport. It all came from sailing. Without Toe in the Water I would not be standing here."

After his speech, he said: "I did not want to do it initially because I thought we were going to be treated like the disabled crew and give us it easy. I did not feel that we could be competitive and I didn't feel that I was up to the job.

"My perception of the sport was based on that. But once I was in it I got it and after day one everything changed."

After his speech, Mr Herbert said how Prince Harry had told him not to worry about his nerves for public speaking, and said that he felt the same every time he made a speech.

Mr Herbert has since qualified with A-levels and a degree, and is now a sports coach at the University of Sheffield.

Before Prince Harry's speech, a video was played demonstrating the sports and adventures which service personnel have done since suffering their injuries, which include mountain climbing, racing across deserts and flying small aircraft.

Upon taking to the stand, he joked: "We have got this fund where all the guys can have a lot of fun but then we put them through this ... so thanks to the insurance guys."

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