Winchester Army Medic Celebrates Being A Dad
A Winchester army medic who lost both legs in Afghanistan and feared he might never have children has become a father for the first time.
Sergeant Simon Harmer, 35, suffered horrific injuries after stepping on a makeshift bomb while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Doctors feared he might not survive but the serviceman proved them wrong and he and his wife Marisa are now the delighted parents of a little girl.
Sophia's birth, which followed more than two years of treatment, numerous skin grafts and more than a dozen operations, was "the best thing ever", he said.
"We are over the moon. Actually over the moon is probably an understatement - over the moon and back again is probably more like it."
Sgt Harmer, from Winchester, Hampshire, was one month into a tour and at the start of an operation with the Coldstream Guards when he triggered an IED planted 200 metres from his base.
He had been married to his wife, a 30-year-old school teacher, for only three months.
The blast, in October 2008, was so severe that the Bosnia and Iraq veteran lost his left leg above the knee, his right leg below the knee and broke his right arm.
"It wasn't the best day but, to be honest, I'm one of the lucky ones," he said.
"A lot of the guys that have been injured have suffered genital injuries but that is something that you don't necessarily hear about. That was a concern."
After a month and a half at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, Sgt Harmer began rehabilitation at Headley Court in Surrey.
Sophia was born in February.
"She is always happy and she's always smiling," he said.
"I absolutely adore her and she has got me wrapped around her little finger.
"I'm a little bit of a handful sometimes and I think she is going to be a little bit of a handful as well."
The injured serviceman is now walking again using prosthetic legs and looking forward to sharing in his daughter's future but certain activities may always elude him.
"I try and involve myself as much as I can," he said.
"At the moment I change her nappies, as you would expect in this day and age, I feed her and I bath her.
"She loves swimming and that's something I really enjoy. In the future I'd like to be able to do all the things that a father is able to do - take her camping, that sort of thing.
"Although I've got prosthetic legs, I'm never going to be able to do some of the stuff I want to do.
"But we are quite optimistic and we don't really dwell on the bad stuff.
"All we look at is the positive that's come out of everything that's happened. We consider ourselves quite lucky.
"Everything can be achieved, I suppose, it's just about finding a way to do it."
Sgt Harmer still has one more operation ahead of him and is continuing his rehabilitation at Headley Court.
But despite the lengthy recovery process, he and his wife are looking ahead and are hoping to add to their family.
"I've got a four-bedroom house that I need to fill," he said.
The property has been adapted for his wheelchair with a £25,000 grant from Help for Heroes along with donations from the Soldiers' Charity, the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and the Coldstream Guards.
"The charity funding was indispensable," Sgt Harmer said.
"It's also unexpected when you don't think you deserve it and you don't want to count your chickens."