A former guardsman from Hyde, who featured in last year’s DIY SOS Homes for Veterans project, has talked candidly about his experiences in Afghanistan within a new exhibition.
The heartfelt story of 39-year-old Lamin Manneh is one of 15 told in a new audio visual installment at Astley Farmhouse Art Gallery, Chorley, which will run from 2 April to 26 June.
The temporary exhibition, named Sacrifice: Stories of Bravery & Resilience After Recent Conflicts, invites you into the living rooms of north west veterans who have returned from conflicts including those in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Originally from Gambia, Lamin’s dream was to join the Queen’s Guard and wear a bearskin hat. He managed it on one occasion before being posted to Afghanistan in 2010.
Lamin revealed, “We were working with the Afghan army, and we had a very good relationship with them. I’m Muslim, and the Afghan soldiers would invite me to pray with them and eat with them. I wanted to join the army to help people live their day-to-day lives free from harm, and that’s what I was doing over there’’.
On 31 December 2010, on his first tour of Afghanistan and just three months after being posted, Lamin was on foot patrol in a known Taliban stronghold.
He recalls the memory, “I remember someone telling me there may have been a mine, but it was like a dream. Then I felt something go into my chest, and 14 days later I woke up in hospital in Birmingham. My wife was next to me, and she told me that I’d lost my legs but I didn’t believe her because I still couldn’t feel them. It was only when I reached down that I realised they’d gone”.
Lamin also lost his left arm in the blast and after spending eight weeks in hospital it took him a further two years to learn how to walk on prosthetic legs. But the stern faith and determination to be there for his five children gave him the strength to carry on.
Lamin has recently completed a course on how to run his own business, and is looking for opportunities that will enable him to continue his wish of helping others. He’s also keen to raise money for the charities that helped with his recovery as, he says, they were there for him and he wants to make sure he can be there for others.