AN ex-military man and resident of Old Woking was devastated to find out he is unable to take part in a battlefield tour, even though he was in active service for the best part of a decade.
Former member of the paramilitary, Gary Jackman, who served his country for nearly 10 years, was involved in an explosion during an assignment working for the 22 Special Air Service.
Because of the nature of his work in the SAS, Gary was unable to disclose full details other than the fact that he was ‘abroad’ when explosive devices, most likely IEDs, went off.
As a result, the 52-year-old is now paraplegic and has spent the last 16 years confined to a wheelchair.
This year, with the commemoration of the two World Wars, Gary was keen to book a tour to France. He was particularly interested in a trip to Arnhem and phoned the Leger Battlefield Tour company he’d seen advertised on TV.
He was shocked when he was told the operator couldn’t take him because the coaches they use don’t facilitate people confined to a wheelchair.
Gary, who has a son, three daughters and two grandchildren, was appalled because he said most people wanting to take such trips are ex-Armed Forces staff, many of whom are disabled as a result of serving their country.
There are a number of other companies who specialise in such tours, but when the News & Mail enquired, they too said they are unable to accommodate Gary because their coaches don’t have a ‘lift’ or drop-down amenity to enable him to get on and off.