Kieran helps Army team create new rehab garden

A former serving soldier from Whittingham is rebuilding his life after his dream of Army service was shattered by a road accident which left him brain damaged.

Wednesday, 17th October 2012, 1:10 pm

Twenty-four-year-old Kieran Wood’s injuries were not from being on duty during his recent posting to Afghanistan with the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

The former Broughton High School student was on his first day of leave in Preston when he was involved in a fatal road accident.

Only that morning he had been collected from York, for two weeks of rest and recuperation, by his father, Whittingham businessman Andrew Wood. They returned to the family home and later went for an evening out with friends.

On their way home the car skidded and crashed, leaving a rear passenger fatally wounded. Kieran had severe head injuries and the driver walked away almost unscathed.

The tragedy resulted in him being medically discharged from the Army. It was through the service that he began the vital care regime at the Army’s Hedley Court to restore his speech and mobility.

They started him on a programme which saw him progress from being wheelchair dependant with no mobility and no speech to him walking and talking.

“They treated him supremely well and he is now learning once again to enjoy himself,” said a family spokesman.

“His dream was always to be in the Army. He joined the TA to begin with and then went out to Afghanistan with the Royal Lancs aged 19, the first of his family to join a service.”

Strength of support from his family – he is the eldest of four children – has also been a major part of his ongoing recovery.

And that has also been helped by his participation in a unique programme, to be shown on television next year, which will detail in one of six episodes ex-servicemen and women creating a garden in Preston for ex-service colleagues suffering from mental health issues and post-war traumatic stress.

The projects are for a new Channel 5 programme called “Operation Homefront”, and for the Preston scheme at Ashton Park assistant producer James Kayler asked Kieran’s dad if he could help by providing some of the machinery needed to complete the work.

Excavators, a JCB loadall plus personnel to drive them were loaned by AJ Wood for four days of the project, which resulted in wheelchair access, a greenhouse plus borders and planting beds being created.

“The garden will be a vital part of ex-service personnel’s rehabilitation,” said Mr Kayler.

“The aim is for a tranquil garden that will offer them a place to meet and discuss problems, and also take part in horticultural activities.”

Kieran was on site for a day during the rebuild.

“He was beaming with pleasure all day, and his visit was followed up by two service guys who were on site coming to see him two days later,” reported company director Laurie Le Feuvre.

“His quality of life is good. He lives independently in an annexe next to the family home and has a whole support team network aiding his rehabilitation, including a general carer, physiotherapist and a speech therapist.” The “Operation Homefront” programmes will be broadcast in a primetime slot every Thursday for six weeks sometime next year.