Former Fenland soldier pays marathon fundraising tribute to friends injured in Afghanistan
IN the summer of 2008 Private James Tattingham could only watch as one of his friends lost both legs and an arm in an explosion in the deserts of Afghanistan.
Almost three years on, the 23-year-old, from Gorefield, is paying tribute to his friends and colleagues by raising money for the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association (BLESMA).
Mr Tattingham, who served in the parachute regiment for four years, will run in the Reading Half Marathon next week. He has so far raised almost �500 in sponsorship.
He said: “I have friends who have died and also lost limbs serving on tour which has been tragic for the soldiers and their families.
“My fellow paras are currently serving in Afghanistan, doing their part for our country while we sleep safe at night. So, I feel I should do my part here in the UK.
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“I have witnessed amputees before my very eyes but I have also seen full recovery. I have seen a friend have both his legs and arm blown off and because of this charity I saw him walking just two months later.”
Mr Tattingham, who now works for an engineering company in Wisbech, lives in Gorefield with his wife and two young children. He served in the Falklands and completed a seven-month tour of Afghanistan.
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“I still think about being out there sometimes,” he said. “They say that most people suffer with trauma after coming back. It hasn’t been too bad for me but I did used to have dreams about things that happened. It changed my life.
“After a while you get used to being on the frontline. We would go out on patrols every day looking for Taliban. You just start to do what you’ve been trained to do. It sounds weird to say but after a while you do get used to being shot at.
“There were a few people that got killed when I was out there. One person that I worked with got blown up driving a medical wagon.
“He had picked up two people who had been injured and was taking them to the helicopter pick-up point. The wagon was blown up and he died but the two people in the back survived. He saved their lives.”
Mr Tattingham is still in contact with his former colleagues in the armed forces and has sent parcels out to his friends in Afghanistan.
“I will never forget my experience - it will always be with me. I found it hard being away from my family.
“There were moments when I felt isolated. I used to find it hard to ring home because talking to them made me think about how much I wanted to be there.
“I watch the news and I see my lot out there now. I want to raise money for them. I want to help however I can.”
If you would like to sponsor Mr Tattingham visit his fundraising page: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JamesTattingham