Army Cadet magazine (available online here) spoke to Helen Matthews, an above-knee amputee who tells us about her journey within the ACF and her life after limb loss.
In 2011 Helen Matthews became a left leg above-knee amputee (AKA) following years of knee problems and a total of 13 operations. She now works as the County PRO and Internet Media Officer at Cambridgeshire ACF.
You obviously love being an adult volunteer, are you happy to be back?
Yes, my Commandant has been very understanding, and with this position I can undertake light duties, such as attending to the website updates even at home whilst I recover from my latest surgery. It will be a challenge but it does allow me to be more creative. I also hope that with my amputation I can help inspire both cadets and instructors. I think it’s important to teach young people about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and in my case disability. I want them to know that you may have to work harder but we all have the ability to achieve.
What made you join the ACF?
I had worked in the ACF many years before, originally in Bedfordshire back in 1990. With a move to Cambridgeshire and missing the ACF, I re-joined in 2005 as a way to meet people and get involved with the cadets as that’s what I love most.
As your knee condition progressed, have you been given a lot of support from your ACF colleges?
I have received incredible support from Cambs ACF through all of my knee issues. We had no disabled facilities at County HQ but East Anglia RFCA have been great and got the building up to spec so that it will be more accessible for me in my wheelchair. There are not too many disabled cadets, but it is important to remember to work with the person, not against their limitations which, I am happy to say, my colleagues do.
What inspires you?
Creative people, art, photography… I love the idea of being able to tell a story in a single image. However as much as I enjoy creating myself, I am always enthralled by what other people have made. I explain further in my blog www.theamputee.co.uk it may have been a negative experience for me but as long as a positive comes from a negative, then it is not a negative anymore.
Source: Army Cadet Magazine
21st May 2013