Two soldiers from Halifax who were seriously injured in Afghanistan have been given the keys to their refurbished homes following extensive adaptations to their properties.
Sapper Ben Lee who served with 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) and Sapper Jack Holmes who served with 21 Engineer Regiment both suffered severe injuries from Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) while on operations in Afghanistan.
Sapper Lee and Private Holmes returned to their homes in Halifax once they had recovered from their injuries at the military rehabilitation centre Headley Court, but as double amputees found moving through the narrow doors and hallways as well as managing everyday tasks in the kitchens with its high-tops and bathrooms posed a major problem for wheelchair users.
The adaptations, completed by York-based the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) of Yorkshire and the Humber, now mean both properties are wheelchair accessible and include wider corridors, modern bathrooms, ramps and lifts, and adapted kitchens enabling both soldiers to access all areas.
Looking around his new home Sapper Lee, who lives with his partner and son, said: “A week into the job and my house looked like a bomb had just gone off! But after just seven weeks everything was done and we were all back in. The lads have done a great job. It’s made life so much easier with the day-to-day tasks.”
Sapper Holmes, who is married with children, said: “Having looked around my house after the work was finished, it was hard to take in. It’s made such a difference to us, and I’ve have been able to enjoy life with my children a lot more and found everything so much easier.”
Colonel Carron Snagge, Chief Executive of the RFCA said: “We’re delighted to be able to help Sappers Lee and Holmes and their families, and very pleased they’re happy with the end result. For all the adaptations we do it’s important that injured soldiers are involved at every stage and the work is completed quickly and efficiently. This is our fifth adaptation in the region over the last year or so, and we’re very proud to have completed all of them ahead of time, thereby avoiding any unnecessary delays to injured soldiers, and letting them get on with their new lives.”
The RFCA manages the estate for all Reservists and Cadets in the region, which includes 449 buildings, covering 6,500 acres of land, and ranges from small cadet huts to multi-unit bases. Additionally, the RFCA manages multi-million pound works and estates budgets on behalf of the MoD, including adapting inured service personnel’s homes.