The Battle Back Centre
Sapper Lyndon Chatting-Walters
A soldier's story
When Sapper Lyndon Chatting-Walters was injured while serving a soldier in Afghanistan, his world changed in a split second.
Now 25, and settled in Leeds, he had joined the Royal Engineers in 2006, and subsequently passed the gruelling P Company test, an ordeal required by soldiers wishing to join the elite Parachute Regiment. Sapper Chatting-Walters passed this test, and in 2007 joined 9 Parachute Squadron, an airborne detachment of the Royal Engineers.
He was sent to serve in Afghanistan, where, on 19 July 2008, his life changed forever. He, and his comrades, were on a recovery mission near Sangin, a town in Helmand province, to support a vehicle which had been ambushed by insurgents. An IED (improvised explosive device) detonated below the vehicle in which he was travelling. The result was dramatic and terrifying; he was thrown 60ft through the air, and landed in a neighbouring orchard. His injuries, too, were horrific: four broken vertebrae, a broken leg, shrapnel wounds to his legs and groin, damage to his right arm, a fractured heel, bruising to his lung, a broken jaw, and amnesia induced by the trauma. And, as he notes dryly, “a broken finger!”
Following his injuries, Sapper Chatting-Walters was hospitalised for 10 weeks, during which he spent three weeks in intensive care. After seven further weeks of strict bed rest, he then confined to a wheelchair for three months. Although he received extensive physiotherapy to help him recover from his spinal injuries, doctors doubted that he would be able to walk again. A gruelling physiotherapy regime was accompanied by mental therapy; he spent time at Headley Court, the army’s defence medical rehabilitation centre, where he was trained to restore his memory. In spite of their predictions, Sapper Chatting-Walters invested time and energy into his own rehabilitation, with the result that he was able to return to the front line in Afghanistan in September 2010.
Sadly, the extent of his injuries proved too much for the rigours of the front line, and he was forced to withdraw from army life. It was at this point that he first heard of the activities of BattleBack, through his Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU). It was, he admits, a dark time: “After my injuries started to deteriorate I was on sick leave for a long time left to my own devices.”
The range of recovery activities offered by BattleBack proved a turning point for Sapper Chatting-Walters, and set him on the road to finding a new purpose beyond the army. As he says: “BattleBack helped me realise I can still achieve and partake in physical activity.
More importantly it helped my mental state and gave me the drive I needed to move on in life. It gave me visions of what the future could be like for me and motivated me to achieve whatever I wanted.”
After working with BattleBack, Sapper Chatting-Walters has forged a new career, which has enabled him to link his love of physical activity with a new-found passion for encouraging other to reach their physical potential.
He comments: “I am now a freelance outdoor instructor and coach at BattleBack and spend my time travelling and climbing routes all over the world on both personal and work expeditions.
In between this I instruct for students, young people and infantry recruits in climbing, abseiling, gorge scrambling and mountaineering around the UK mountain areas.”