Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Saturday, 18 October 2008 11:56 UK

Injured ranger receives medal

RIR soldiers at the medal parade - pic MOD

A teenage soldier from Belfast who lost both his legs fighting in Afghanistan has rejoined his regiment to receive a medal for his service.

Ranger Andrew Allen, 19, from 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment sustained severe injures in a Taleban bomb attack in Helmand province.

As well as losing his legs, he suffered facial injuries in the July explosion.

On Friday, he was reunited with his comrades at the regiment's base at Tern Hill in Shropshire.

"I'm really pleased to be able to go onto the parade ground to accept my medal today," he said.

"But to be honest, the biggest buzz is just being back with the lads again. It's the first time I've seen them since I was injured and I've just been having a lot of banter with them, which I've missed.

Ranger Andrew Allen with his mother Linda Sheridan and her partner Jim Lattimer - pic MOD
Ranger Andrew Allen said the support from home had meant a lot to him

"At the moment I'm taking each day at a time. But I want the people of Northern Ireland to know just how much their support means to me.

"There have been fundraising events over at home and I've received cards and letters from lots of people, people I don't even know. It means a lot to know that everyone is behind me."

Ranger Allen was one of 400 RIR soldiers to be presented with his 'Op Herrick' medal by Lieutenant General Sir Phillip Trousdell KBE CB, the Regimental Colonel of the 1st Battalion.

His mother Linda Sheridan accompanied him from Belfast for the event.

"Today is a really big day, when you consider that there were times when we thought Andrew might not make it," she said.

"I'm feeling so many different emotions today; it's very difficult to put into words.

"I'm so proud of Andrew; he's achieved so much in a short space of time."

The unit have recently returned from a six-month tour of Helmand province where they worked as mentors to the Afghan National Army.

The regiment lost one soldier on the tour - Ranger Justin Cupples, who died in a mortar attack in the Sangin district in September.

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