I remember the day I lost my first leg whilst my mum cried, my dad punched me in the arm and, said you done good boy. I became interested in walking again after hanging out with the other veterans within Let's Do Veteran Support Charity who all had a common factor they all wore prosthetics and used them well.
I had seen them on good days and on bad, where stumps would be red raw and sore and how they would remove them to dry out the liners, all which intrigued me and gave me food for thought. It was on returning from the Isle Of Man that I decided I would see Steve Frazer from Blesma and appointments were made at the Bristol Prosthetic Clinic. On my very first appointment the consultant told me in no uncertain terms what I was asking for could be done, but it was going to be a hard painful and an emotional journey, all of which I was ready for. I was still a man and it wouldn't stop me or so I thought. Within no time I had my legs and I was attending the clinic two or three times a week.
I Had decided it was going to be a secret from my family and I would surprise them christmas day, there were many times I didn't think I would make it. It was 100% harder than I ever imagined, and as for being emotional well I spent as much time trying to walk as wiping tears from my eyes, not always with pain sometimes frustration even fear of letting them down and letting myself down.
I would practise every day in secret - it had become a mission and one in which I would not fail. I was going to walk on christmas day in front of my wife, my four daughters, my son and their partners and my grandchildren.
Then the big day came and they were all waiting for me - I closed my eyes and took a large breath and asked them to look out for me as I walked from a lift towards them tears clearly running down my checks my girls in floods of tears and even my boys excused themselves to be able to shed a tear in private. I can't tell you how I felt at that moment it was like jumping from a helicopter into the sea for the first time, not quite getting your first breath of fresh air, in short amazing!
I made my first tiny steps - with a little help from a frame, but I did it!
It was then i asked my wife sally to renew our vows after 33 years of marriage Sally had asked me before and I had answered that I would not go up the aisle in a chair, well now I don't have to anymore. I placed the ring on her finger and yes you guessed it - there were more tears.
Little did i know the hardest thing was yet to come, so Sally, my daughter Ellie May and myself got into my van and set off to surprise my Mum and Dad, for those of you who don't know my dad he has always been a man's man never taken anything from anyone, worked all his life and kept a straight home, a hard man in many ways would not show emotion in front of anyone, so I never expected him to react as he did. I still can't watch the whole video Ellie filmed as Mum and Dad came out to find me walking - to be hugged by my dad was the biggest proudest moment of my life to date.
First Walk For My Parents After Being Wheelchair Bound For 13 Years
Off The Frame And Onto Sticks
Fine Tuning The Sticks
Thank you to everyone involved.
Never give up.
Never say never.
Watch this space.
With love and respect, Mark Hancock
This was a journey I could not manage on my own so with my very close family of friends Andy Hale, Andy Simon Steve Jones Jeff Winder Sam Larkner and my rock Jamie Russell. Thanks to fellow Veterans who help us to conquer - the likes of Jeff Winder, Mark Skelly and Rob Maxwell.