Anna’s 12 years’ army service included two tours of Iraq, but she sustained her life-changing injury away from a war zone as a Combined Services candidate for the British bobsleigh team at the Winter Olympics.
Anna, a former captain in the Adjutant General Corps, seriously damaged her leg as she sped downhill at 70 mph while training in Latvia in 2005 after her foot hit a small block of ice. “Basically my left leg went left, and the rest of me went straight on,” she says.
She underwent multiple operations and lengthy rehabilitation treatment at Headley Court, all of which failed to prevent her becoming confined to a wheelchair. By 2009, she found herself poleaxed by a deep depression. “I was on a cocktail of medication for the pain, struggling to function and feeling as though life was slipping away from me.” Finally, in 2011, Anna had an elective through-the-knee amputation. “My depression lifted instantly and I realised that what disables me – having only one leg – is also the very thing that enables me.”
Within months, she was not just walking, but skiing on her new prosthetic leg. Anna, 39, was medically discharged from the army in 2012. The same year, she met her husband Ollie, a car mechanic, and they now live on Exmoor.
She took part in the 2014 Ski Week, knowing that on her return, she would have to undergo further surgery because of nerve damage to her leg.
“The trip was awesome,” she says. “How can you not smile when you are in the mountains with sunshine and beautiful panoramas?” But even more valuable to Anna than enjoying week’s skiing was the support she received following her return from Klosters.
SWV arranged for her to be mentored through recovery by Jane Durgan, a former solicitor who is also a lifelong amputee not through injury, but because of a congenital condition.
“She completely understands my frustrations, because she has lived with them herself. And she constantly reminds me that it’s possible to be an amputee and live a full life,” says Anna. “I don’t need professional support at the moment, but having Jane’s shoulder to lean on has been invaluable.”