Town ‘hero’s welcome’ to brave soldier (5th May)

Published on: Thursday, 2nd May 2024
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An ex-soldier who was left wheelchair bound in his 20s has been found a specially-adapted home after a hunt across Erewash – sparking a plea for him to get a warm welcome from big-hearted residents in a town where he is a stranger.

The former serviceman – identified only as “Aiden” – had a one-bed flat in Sandiacre but needed two bedrooms because a carer has to stay with him round the clock.

Housing officials helped the now 29-year-old find a more suitable place in Ilkeston – but it is a town he is unfamiliar with.

Erewash Borough Council’s Kate Fennelly, who is the town hall’s Armed Forces Champion, is keen for residents to give him a hero’s welcome as he settles into his new home.

The ex-soldier served his country in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, where he held the rank of Craftsman. He had to cut short his Forces career after showing signs of health issues – and began training to work in the care sector.

Plans to study at university were then derailed when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That was six years ago. Kate, who serves as the council’s Deputy Mayor, said: “He now has to use a wheelchair and needs 24-hour care at the young age of 29. It would be great if the community can get together to welcome this lovely young man to his new home.”

People are being invited to write cards. These can be handed in at four local businesses that have joined the welcome campaign: Petals Flowers and the U Choose Smoothie cafe, both on Bath Street, The Gladstonian bar on South Street and Ilkeston Discount Chain store on the Market Place.

A surprise “welcome to Ilkeston” party is also planned for Sunday 5th May at 11:50am. Kate said: “We will be meeting a short walk from his new home at the junction of Stringer Close and Cotmanhay Road. If anyone has any balloons, cakes or anything else suitable to welcome him, bring them along on the day.”

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