Belfast Telegraph

Bomb survivor soldier proud to be alive to celebrate birthday on Remembrance Day

BY VICTORIA O'HARA

A soldier who survived being blown up in Afghanistan has spoken of his pride at turning 28 on Remembrance Day – a birthday he feared he would not live to see.

Lance Corporal Bryan Phillips lost both legs in the blast in June last year when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated during a patrol.

The Newtownabbey man died for almost a minute as medics tried to rescue him.

But the father-of-one made a miraculous recovery and will mark his birthday on November 11.

It is the annual memorial day for soldiers who have died while serving their country – and Bryan says he is "lucky to be alive".

As the Belfast Telegraph reported earlier this year, he launched his charity Stride With Pride (stridewithpride.org).

The aim of the charity is to help disabled or disadvantaged children and inspire them with a message of being confident and that 'life goes on'.

In that time he has managed to raise more than £11,000 for charities and appeals to help children across Northern Ireland.

Bryan said: "I just want to give something back to say thank you for the support I've had. I also just want to live life to the full. I know I'm lucky to be here."

Still learning to walk again, he attends a military rehabilitation centre at Hedley Court in Surrey.

But Bryan, who still has a Taliban bullet inside his body, has gone on to challenge himself further, even participating in a skydive.

In June he completed a New York hand-cycling event that was organised by the Wounded Warrior project – the American equivalent of the charity Help For Heroes in the UK.

Along with eight others from the UK, he was among a large group who hand-cycled across the state of New York.

"They were injured in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it wasn't just battle injuries, it was multi-personnel," he explained.

"There was a girl there, too, she has cancer. They said she wouldn't live until Christmas – and she was on it.

"It was a great experience. I'm just grateful for all the support I've had and want to give something back."

He also travelled in America, touring on a motorbike along the famous Route 66.

On Monday–Remembrance Day – he has been invited to speak to primary school pupils in Monkstown about its significance.

"I think it is important that children know about what happened in World War I and II," he said.

"Soldiers today are talked about, but what those men did should not be forgotten.

"It will be my birthday, too. It has been a special year and I am lucky and proud to be here. I just don't see the point in feeling sorry for yourself. But I want to go on and do more and help more people."

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