Fitting award for inspirational Joe

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Eastbourne war hero Joe Townsend will meet Olympic champion and inspirational athlete Derek Redmond at the Soldiering on Awards this Sunday.

Joe Townsend, 23, who now lives in Pevensey, is to be presented with a prestigious award at this year’s star-studded gala taking place at the 5-star Waldorf Astoria in Syon Park.

Joe, currently serving in the Royal Marines, will receive the Sporting Endeavour of the Year Award which recognises someone who has reached beyond disability to inspire others through sporting achievement.

Joe joined the Royal Marines in when he was a teenager and in February 2008, while serving on Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, he stood on an improvised explosive device as he led a patrol back to his base in Helmand Province.

He lost both legs and shattered his elbow. It was thanks to the other soldiers in his patrol, who patched him up, that he is here to tell the tale.

Once stabilised in Camp Bastion Hospital, he was flown back to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham where he spent more than five months. Joe also suffered other horrific injuries both internal and external and has had more than 40 operations.

Despite being told shortly after his accident that he would never walk again, within 10 months he was on prosthetic legs and was skiing with BLESMA in Colorado.

He has since supported the charity on a number of cycling tournaments were he has excelled.

Now he has not only defied the odds by mastering prosthetic limbs, he is now taking on able-bodied athletes in one of the world’s ultimate tests of endurance. He is competing in the Ironman (Triathlon) competition which involves swimming 2.4 miles, running and cycling.

Soldiering on Awards are held annually to raise awareness of the plight of our servicemen and women and raise funds for the injured.

Sunday’s event will once again host VIP’s from the military and politics and also top celebrities including Robin Gibb, Chris Tarrant and Anthony Andrews.

Major Ian Mattinson, one of the organisers, said, “Joe Townsend is a quite unassuming but super fit and amazing young man.

“He is just 23, and already an inspiration to many, many people.

“To be doing what he is doing, competing against and beating many able bodied athletes, in what is a gruelling competition, is quite astounding. It is only fitting for someone such as Derek Redmond, whose own triumph of adversity is well known to be presenting this award.”