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All the best: Politician Andy Allen's favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 27-year-old is the Ulster Unionist MLA for East Belfast. He lives in Belfast with his wife Natalie, a classroom assistant, and their children Carter (7) and Chloe (3). Andy lost both of his legs and was partially blinded at the age of 19 when he was serving in Afghanistan with the Army.

My best moment

That would be a combination of my wedding day and the births of both of my children. Natalie and I had known each other since childhood, but after losing touch for a few years we got back together a few months before I went to Afghanistan.

My best song

The Bryan Adams hit Everything I Do I Do It For You — it was my wedding song. My wife Natalie and I actually got to meet Bryan Adams three years ago, when he was writing a book about injured soldiers. He is a lovely guy and very down-to-earth.

My best way to relax

Life can be very busy when  you’re an MLA, so for me the most important way to spend my downtime is with my family. I’ll put the Xbox on with Carter or play a game with Chloe.

My best job

Being in the Army was certainly one of the best jobs I had. Obviously after I was injured I had to take a few years out for recovery. In 2010, I set the wheels in motion with other ex-service personnel to found a charity for veterans and their families in Northern Ireland. It’s called Andy Allen Veteran Support and we’ve established Northern Ireland’s first drop-in and training centre.

My best advice

The thing that has always resonated with me is that all through my life my mum has always told me to never give up. It’s advice that’s meant different things to me at different times of my life.

Another saying that I’ve always kept with me is ‘adapt and overcome’ — that’s an Army saying and it’s one that has always stayed with me.

My best gift

Natalie, who was my girlfriend at the time, sent me a photograph of herself when I was in Afghanistan. It’s something that I was able to keep with me thousands of miles away.

My best achievement

After I was injured I managed to get up quite quickly on to prosthetic limbs and start walking. Because of various issues I had, it’s not been something that I’ve been able to continue and I use a wheelchair now. At the time, though, it was a real achievement.

My best buy

My very first car was a Peugeot 206 — I passed my test in the Army and having a car gave me a great independence when I was at a young age. I haven’t been able to keep driving, as my eyesight was too badly damaged, but that car was my first and last and I cherished it.

My best film

A film from 2011 called Warrior. It’s about two brothers who are mixed martial arts fighters and focuses on what drives them apart and brings them back together. I like that it shows the bonds which are always there with families

My best book

I’m not a massive book reader, but there is one that I really enjoyed. After I saw a film called Lone Survivor, which was about four US Special Forces guys during an operation in Afghanistan, I bought the book, because I wanted to read about all the things the film didn’t cover. It was so fascinating and I read it in just two weeks

Belfast Telegraph


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