In May 2011, an Improvised Explosive Device in Afghanistan injured Major Steve McCulley a Marine from Hampshire.
“As the lads performed first aid on me to stem the bleeding, I can remember thinking how proud I was of them and how professionally they were handling the situation. A Directional Fragmentation Charge IED had just hit me – these are located in the sides of walls and ditches in order to hit the upper body. Shrapnel hit me everywhere, but my more serious injuries were the large holes in the right-hand side of my chest where the shrapnel fractured six of my ribs and tore through my right lung. Everything started going dark – I thought I was going to die, never see my kids again. My men managed to keep me awake until the Medical Emergency Response Team picked me up. I was flown back to the field hospital in camp Bastion and my last memory of Afghanistan was a surgeon looking over me and saying, ‘you’re going to be alright’.
“I spent the next three weeks in a medically-induced coma in Intensive Care at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. Two months after I was wounded I went home for two weeks sick leave before going to Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court. Initially I made good progress, however a year after being injured I started coughing up blood.
“Due to the severe risk from the shrapnel remaining in my lung, in August 2012 I underwent major surgery to remove as much of it as possible. I lost 80% of my lung but they managed to remove 15 pieces of shrapnel from my chest cavity.
“Today I still get horrific chest pain and have problems with my knee and hips, which are degenerative. I get lethargic because oxygen isn’t getting to my muscles quick enough. I can’t do any impact exercise but I can cycle.
“I’ve always loved bikes – I built my first when I was eight years old. During my military career I took part in competitive cycling representing both the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines.
“I know that I will not be able to compete again. Nonetheless, I remain passionate about cycling and want to continue in the industry. So in between surgery and medical rehabilitation, and with support from the Royal Marines and Help for Heroes, I founded LIOS Bikes.
“I want to offer a personalised service for people that appreciate quality, but may not have the time or experience to purchase or build their own bike. One of my latest projects was creating the world’s lightest folding bicycle.
“Help for Heroes paid for me to go on a cycle technician courses to get accreditation – I’m now qualified to the highest level possible in the UK. The Charity has been amazing. Thanks to their support I’m following my dream of running my own business and feel that I have a real future outside the Marines. I now have something to aim for – when you’ve got so much other stuff going on, be it mental or physical pain, having LIOS Bikes to focus on makes a massive difference to me.
“I’ve been keen to give back as much as I can to Help for Heroes by auctioning my bikes, taking part in the Big Battlefield Bike Ride Challenge and becoming an ambassador for the Charity’s fellowship group the Band of Brothers. I try to do as much as I can because I’m so grateful for how much support my family and I have had.”