Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Brain injury marine wins honour

Thomas Birch
Thomas Birch was described as inspirational

A former royal marine who suffered brain injuries when his vehicle plunged off a cliff in Afghanistan has won an award for his bravery.

Thomas Birch, from Heanor, Derbyshire, had to re-learn how to walk and talk after his Land Rover fell 100ft in an accident in November 2006.

The 21-year-old battled back from multiple head and neck injuries to become a personal trainer.

He has been named brain injury charity Headway's achiever of the year.

'Incredible young man'

Mr Birch was serving in Helmand Province with a fellow marine at the time of the crash, which is the subject of an ongoing inquiry.

He was travelling from his base to pick up ammunition stores, but is unable to remember what happened.

His injuries included three fractures to the skull and serious internal damage.

Mr Birch said: "It's been very hard. I had to learn to walk, talk and write again - everyday things that people take for granted.

"At points I got very frustrated, but I always knew I'd get here.

"It's an achievement to win this award and it's good to see people care."

Now Mr Birch works part-time as a personal trainer at the Rolls Royce Leisure Suite in Hucknall.

Peter McCabe, Headway Chief Executive, said: "Thomas is an incredible young man.

"It must take an extraordinary amount of emotional and physical strength to rebuild one's life from scratch, particularly when you were so young, fit and active when everything changed.

"The way in which Thomas has done so, however, is nothing short of inspirational."


A former royal marine from Derbyshire who suffered brain injuries has won an award for his bravery.

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Derby Evening Telegraph Making headway after injury - 30 hrs ago
Derbyshire Times Ex-marine honoured for 'extraordinary' recovery - 32 hrs ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland Marine honoured for recovery - 43 hrs ago

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