Injured veteran's surprise at gifted 'lifechanging' wheelchair for competitive sports dream
The Speaker of the House of Commons has hosted an event in support of the OppO foundation, which helps injured veterans wishing to use sports as a way of recovery.
As part of Sir Lindsay Hoyle's event, an unsuspecting injured veteran was gifted a specialised wheelchair to support his dream in competitive sport.
Former RAF Sergeant Pete Lauder plays wheelchair rugby league for Scotland and did not have his own wheelchair – until now.
Mr Lauder said that receiving his own wheelchair through the OppO foundation was "phenomenal" and "life-changing".
"I'm just blown away and just can't put it into words enough to say thank you," the veteran said.
During the event, previous recipients spoke directly to the Chief of the Air Staff, the head of their former service, about how access to sports had become an enabler when leaving the military injured so they could find their feet as a civilian even when unable to walk.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said: "We've heard some amazing stories from some of our veterans, but we've also heard how their lives have been changed by the foundation through sports equipment, and particularly the wheelchairs that enable them to be national elite athletes in their field.
"So it's been really uplifting," he added.
The OppO foundation was set up by Kayam Iqbal, who served in the British military for 12 years and was medically discharged after his last tour of Afghanistan, suffering from severe PTSD.
The veteran said he wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans.
"We've delivered many projects from handing out boilers to veterans who couldn't afford it themselves, to delivering mental health and resilience talks during the global pandemic," he said.
"We've given out sports equipment to wounded veterans wishing to compete in Paralympics or the Invictus."
Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: "It's about supporting people who have served their country, getting them back into jobs, getting them into sport, giving them a quality of life, and that's why I'm so pleased to just be part of this amazing charity that's doing such amazing work."