A VETERAN from Tilshead is urging others to step up to raise vital funds for wounded and sick veterans after overcoming her own challenges when an injury led to her having her lower leg amputated.

Cornelia Oosthuizen, 41, hopes her story will help motivate people to sign up to Help for Heroes’ new challenge, Step 2 It, to do up to 10,000 steps a day for 30 days.

The former British Army officer had her lower leg amputated after five years of living in agony following an injury sustained while competing in the Army’s annual tennis competition in 2014.

She was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) which is characterised by intolerable long term pain, Cornelia’s amputation in 2018 took place as a last ditch effort to stop the pain and she then underwent intense rehab and physiotherapy to learn to walk again.

She has since won a gold and bronze medal at the 2017 Invictus Games as a wheelchair tennis player and has her sights set on representing her country at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Cornelia said:“My quality of life deteriorated as the chronic pain intensified and I ended up being a shadow of my former self. When I became a single leg amputee I then struggled to accept that for a long time, but this was also the beginning of accepting the new reality and sport for me was an absolute gift from Help for Heroes. For those who get involved in Step 2 It I would like to say thank you, and can honestly say that doing physical exercise definitely helps with your mental health. Let’s do this, man, and don’t hold back.”

With the majority of its fundraising events being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Help for Heroes, which runs Tedworth House Recovery Centre in Tidworth, hopes that Step 2 It will start plugging its fundraising deficit while giving people an opportunity to get fit in a fun way.

Hannah Lawton, the charity's sports recovery manager said: "Sport and exercise are massively important for many of the sick and wounded veterans that we support. Not just to help their physical wellbeing but to improve mental health. It can be a great way to re-motivate yourself after injury or illness and help you realise you can still do the things you love.”

To sign up go to Step2It.helpforheroes.org.uk