The Veterans for Wildlife Footprints of Hope project is only a month away from commencing, and we would like to start introducing you to one of our five participants, beginning with Peter Dunning.

After working in the hospitality trade for 4 years I was bored of that and wanted something to challenge me more, physically and mentally. Sub-consciously I felt like I heard more and more about the Royal Marines and so I thought why not? The next thing I know I’m signing on the dotted line and on the train down to Lympstone to start my 32 weeks of basic training. I finished training and was sent out to Afghanistan for my first tour of duty in March 2007 where I was until the following October. 

I was sent back out in March 2008 to complete a 3-month tour, but with just 12 days to go until my end of tour date on 25 May 2008, the vehicle I was in drove over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). I lost my driver, another friend of mine was severely burnt and broke his legs. I lost both of my legs, one through the knee and one below the knee, fractured my spine which is fused now, I punctured my left lung, broke my left collarbone and have burns to both arms and both legs.

After my time in the hospital, I moved to start my rehabilitation at Headley Court where I began to learn to do things for myself again, as well as walk once more. While at Headley Court I went on a trip and discovered how to sit-ski and I loved it and wanted to take it further. After skiing with a military disabled ski team for a season, I was asked to join the British disabled skiing team. Unfortunately, I only lasted a couple of seasons on the ski team as I had injured myself twice in consecutive seasons, which resulted in having surgery on my left shoulder. After this, I started to go downhill, mentally, and it had lasting effects on my relationships at home."

Pete is now travelling to Sydney to take part in the 2018 Invictus games partaking in athletics and wheelchair rugby. After this, he will be visiting a baby rhino sanctuary in South Africa with six other candidates to take part in Veterans for Wildlife's first Footprints of Hope programme.

When asking Pete what he hopes to get out of the programme he replied:

Now that my lifestyle has changed dramatically, I want to be able to be more comfortable with myself when I’m on my own. I want to learn coping strategies for the days when I am alone and feeling down, that I can have to pick myself back up again. I also want to be confident within myself, have the confidence to go out and do things even if it means me doing it on my own.