A SOLDIER awarded a medal for gallantry after braving enemy fire attempting to save a comrade was the guest of honour at an awards ceremony.
Bombardier Gary Prout, of the Royal Artillery Regiment, was invited to the CDG-Wise Ability awards ceremony at Emsworth’s Brookfield Hotel.
The organisation helps disabled people, those with mental health problems and long-term unemployed back to work. It also works with charities such as the Shaw Trust and Mencap across Hampshire.
Bdr Prout went along to inspire those in the room with his tale of bravery in Afghanistan in 2010.
When one of his comrades was hit by an explosion and left stranded in the open, Bdr Prout broke cover and, in view of the enemy, went to help a colleague, give first aid, then drag him to the safety of medics.
Bdr Prout was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross medal for his actions in Afghanistan, second only to the Victoria Cross.
He said: ‘We were out on patrol. A point man was engulfed in an explosion, an IED.
‘I pushed forward to help treat him and I realised that he was stuck out in an open area so I ran through the ambush, got a hold of him and got him into some cover.
‘Sadly his injuries were such that he was unable to survive but it was important that he had someone with him. I’m here to share my story. Indirectly I’m linked to CDG-Wise Ability because I help and assist people from the Enham Trust (another disability charity).
‘We have an archery club up in Andover and we have a few members from the Enham Trust.
‘It’s something I take great pleasure from – putting that little bit back into the community that was given to me since my injury.’
The big winner yesterday was 25-year-old Liam Ridgway, from West Leigh, who works for Tops Day Nursery at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.
Linda Matthews, of CGD-Wise, said: ‘Liam has shown such dedication in completing his NVQ. He has more challenges than some but is always determined to achieve his goals.
‘He has an unstoppable, cheery attitude and is a deserving winner.’
For more on the work of CDG-Wise Ability go to base-uk.org.