Alex Horsfall is British Veteran who served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Read more about how King Edward VII’s Hospital helped him with a knee replacement as a recipient of the Veterans’ Grant.
In 2007, I left university and joined the British Army. With the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns in full swing, I had a great sense of excitement and uncertainty, probably in equal measures. I joined The Rifles, a newly amalgamated regiment, and managed to find my feet as a young platoon commander in Northern Ireland and Kosovo. In 2009, I was deployed to Sangin, Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. After four months, the platoon was sadly caught up in a Taliban ambush involving multiple improvised explosive devices which left five of my Riflemen dead and several injured. I was extremely fortunate to survive, thanks to those soldiers around me, but had my left hand and leg amputated alongside a few other injuries. I spent the next few years in and out of hospital and rehabilitation. I quickly learnt to walk again with the help of a prosthesis but as is perhaps inevitable, after over a decade of putting excess strain on my good leg, something snapped.
I was extremely grateful to be invited to come to King Edward VII Hospital for a consultation, free of charge under their veterans fund. At the time we all simply thought I had torn a muscle or a ligament, but following an MRI scan I was told a small break in the femur would mean I would need a knee replacement. Despite this, and without a second’s thought, the hospital was willing to cover all of the costs of five days stay, alongside scans, surgery, physiotherapy and round the clock care.
One of my fondest memories of King Edward VII was the people. The genuine undivided attention staff were all able to provide to the patients is laudable and I honestly believe this played an integral part in my recovery. The warmth from each and every interaction I had, whatever the time of day or night, whether about my health or simply an intimate chinwag, was strikingly memorable. I have had the misfortune of getting to know hospitals up and down the country, but it was evident right from the start, that King Edward VII stands out through the effort from staff in building genuine relationships with each patient. We are all mindful of the profound challenges the health service has had to endure over the last few years, but I hope they are all aware of the reassuring pride they engender in the public with their stoic and unrelenting professionalism.
In 2009, injured servicemen were returning from Afghanistan in their droves. It is perhaps odd to say, but it was a good time to be injured, as the military was always at the forefront of the minds of the British people. Since then, with less wounded and killed on operations, the well-being of veterans is understandably no longer front page news. However, it is precisely why it is so heart-warming and uplifting to see organisations such as King Edward VII, still looking out for the well-being of veterans.
So for that, and to all at King Edward VII, I say an enormous and heartfelt thank you, from the surgeons, to the nurses, to the radiographers, to the physios and of course to the front of house, who had to put up with my incessant ‘fresh air’ breaks. My knee has slowly but surely healed and I am back up and walking, having had the envious pleasure of recently throwing my crutch to touch, hopefully never to be seen again!
I can proudly and painlessly stand up straight and salute you all.
Centre for Veteran’s Health Grants and Subsidy
Since 1899 King Edward VII’s Hospital has supported members of the Armed Forces. We continue to uphold this commitment by providing subsidies for all uninsured service Personnel and their husbands and wives.
Depending on your income, medical needs, and our available funds, you could be eligible for support with your hospital fee. Find out more and how to apply.