ON August 28, 2016 former British Army corporal Neil Heritage will attempt to become the first ever above the knee double amputee to scale and conquer one of the highest summits in the Alps and Europe - the 4,478m (14,692ft) Matterhorn in Switzerland, known as the mountains of mountains.
In 2004, at the age of 24, Neil became the first British soldier to survive an above the knee double amputation after being blown up by a suicide bomber in Basra, Iraq. Having narrowly survived the explosion and following countless surgical operations Neil was told he would never walk again.
Neil’s extraordinary spirit and determination has made him an inspiration to many around the world as he continues to defy medical opinion and prove to all there is life beyond injury. Neil refused to accept he would never walk again and since recovering and retraining over the years he has completed triathlons, learned to ski and rowed across the Atlantic Ocean unsupported in the inaugural Row2Recovery team.
Neil commented: “In the first few years post injury the idea of walking and leading a normal life seemed out of reach. Now being able to attempt this challenge makes me realise how far things have come. I hope it encourages others dealing with physical and mental injuries to follow their dreams and realise there is life beyond injury.”
With the support of the Endeavour Fund, Neil will climb with a professional local mountain guide and former British Army soldiers Steve Green and Mark Hooks. The climb is expected to start on August 28th and be completed by August 31st but remains weather dependant.
Each year around 300 people attempt to reach the peak with a guide of which many fail. Neil will be climbing using two kinds of specially designed prosthetics. The first set will allow him to climb on rock in the lower section of the Matterhorn and the second set are designed with a crampon style for use on snow and ice.
Later this year, Neil will use his experience to inspire others when he leads a team of other wounded, injured and sick Servicemen on an introductory alpine course, also supported by the Endeavour Fund.
The Endeavour Fund supports wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel and Veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation. The fund plays an important role in ensuring that more Servicemen and women have the opportunity to rediscover their self-belief and fighting spirit through physical challenges. AIG, the global insurance company, last year signed up as the lead corporate partner of the Endeavour Fund for the next three years.