Horncastle veteran credits wheelchair rugby with giving him purpose as World Cup begins

​An Army veteran from Horncastle says wheelchair rugby has given him a purpose in life again after losing both his legs and four fingertips in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
Tom Folwell wearing a Help for Heroes Rugby top.Tom Folwell wearing a Help for Heroes Rugby top.
Tom Folwell wearing a Help for Heroes Rugby top.

​Tom Folwell, 38, was serving with the Royal Engineers on foot patrol in Helmand Province in 2012 when he stood on an IED, causing life-changing injuries and the end of his career. His recovery has been a long process, including several operations.

“I’m proud to represent Help for Heroes, I really enjoy being around other veterans as we have the same mindset,” said Tom, who featured in Netflix’s recent Heart of Invictus’ documentary series.

“I really enjoy being around other veterans as we have the same mindset."

Tom plays for the Help for Heroes’ team which was undefeated in its first competitive season and promoted to the Championship of the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby league.

He also competes for the Leicester Tigers and captained both Team UK’s Wheelchair Rugby and Wheelchair Basketball teams at the Invictus Games in The Hague.

The International Wheelchair Rugby World Cup kicks off today (Wednesday) in Paris which, for the first time, is being held at the same time as the Rugby World Cup, and England will begin their tournament against Denmark at 11am (full schedule can be found here).

Sport is a massive part of the recovery process, along with things like education, training

and employment. Help for Heroes provides a safe environment to play sport, in which I can

be myself,” Tom said, “Wheelchair rugby can be very tactical, and I enjoy that part of the game, it has given me back my sense of purpose. I’m looking forward to next season when the aim will be to get another promotion.”

The military charity has produced a new range of ‘I’d Rather Be Watching Rugby’ t-shirts which are modelled by members of its Help for Heroes squad, including Tom.

It is encouraging members of the Armed Forces community to get involved in its wheelchair rugby taster sessions and friendly tournaments. There are also opportunities to learn how to coach others through its Coaching Academy.

Tom added: “I’d recommend people give wheelchair rugby a go. Some are put off because they think the knocks are too hard. But the chairs take most of the knocks. And plus, it’s part of the fun.”

For information about Help for Heroes and to see its new range of rugby tops, visit https://shop.helpforheroes.org.uk/collections/mens-t-shirts/products/tshirt-id-rather-be-wheelchair-rugby-t-shirt