Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Cumbrian amputee claims skydiving honour

Alistair and Pixie Hodgson
Mr Hodgson and his wife Pixie regularly take part in competitions

A former paratrooper who lost both legs to an IRA booby trap bomb is to be named British Skydiver of the Year.

Alistair Hodgson, 39, of Cumbria, begged comrades to shoot him as he lay in excruciating pain after stepping on the mine in Northern Ireland in 1992.

But following years of rehabilitation work he began skydiving in 2000 and is now national freestyle champion.

He will be presented with the Taz Causer award by the British Parachute Association on Saturday.

Alistair Hodgson
The former paratrooper was 21 when he lost his legs

Mr Hodgson, of Milnthorpe near Kendal, said: "I don't know if it is something inside me but I think everybody has a little bit of it, where you are always striving to improve yourself.

"I had an opportunity to do that after losing my legs, I had an opportunity to see what is still possible and what I could still do.

"I started skydiving 10 years ago and I found for me that it is the most fantastic thing I have ever done.

"It is a massive playground and you have the opportunity to fly across the sky and feel power, speed and freedom."

He joined the Parachute Regiment aged 19 and eight weeks into a tour of Northern Ireland he triggered the booby trap while searching for a weapons cache in County Tyrone.

Skin grafts

His left leg was blown off below the knee and his right was so badly damaged it later had to be amputated just under his hip.

He underwent a series of life-saving operations and skin grafts.

Mr Hodgson competes with his wife Pixie, 40, and they have claimed the national freestyle title two years in a row.

They are now attempting to attract sponsorship to allow them to travel to Russia for this year's world championships in August.

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