An Accrington soldier who was centimetres from death after being shot by a sniper while on duty in Afghanistan has presented a poppy to the Prime Minister.
Sam Taylor, 28, who served six years as a sapper in the 23 Engineer Regiment from 2007 until 2013, presented the first poppy of the 2015 appeal to David Cameron at Downing Street.
The former soldier visited London with other beneficiaries of the Royal British Legion, after the charity helped him win a higher payout following his injury.
Sam said: “The Legion has been a fantastic support to me. Without the Legion’s help I honestly don’t think I would’ve had much success with my appeal as I didn’t really understand much about it or what I should do.”
In 2010 Sam and his comrades were building a vehicle entry point when he was shot in the back, his fellow soldiers dragged him into their armoured vehicle until the emergency response team arrived.
Sam was flown to Camp Bastion for treatment and then on to Queen Elizabeth Hospital where doctors told him he was incredibly lucky to be alive.
If the bullet was just one centimetre to the right it would have severed his spinal chord and paralysed him. Had the bullet been less than one centimetre to the left, it would have ruptured his carotid artery and he would have bled to death.
Sam added: “When I first signed up, I had hoped to stay in the Army for 12 years but my career was cut short after six. I then had dreams of joining the fire service but that won’t happen now as I’ll never be fit enough for that. It makes me sad but at least I’m still here, it could’ve been so much worse, I could either be in a wheelchair or a coffin now.”
Sam spent three months recovering at home after the bullet fractured his vertebrae, and although he could still write, he struggled with the pain in his arm and was eventually medically discharged from the Army.
He said: “Doctors have told me that I’ll never fully regain the use of my arm. They said that, as I get older, it will get worse and I’ll probably have to wear my arm in a permanent sling when I’m in my 50s or 60s. I’m frustrated and saddened by the prognosis as I have always been very fit and healthy, it’s hard to accept that I will never be able to do all the things I used to do.” Visit www.britishlegion.org.uk