Brave Sean set for his latest test

Next challenge: Sean Gaffney, from Pontefract is set to compete in the Total Warrior Leeds event on the weekend of June 23/24.
Next challenge: Sean Gaffney, from Pontefract is set to compete in the Total Warrior Leeds event on the weekend of June 23/24.

A Pontefract man who had to have his leg amputated to save his life after a freak accident is gearing up for his latest challenge.

Sean Gaffney, now 46, was just 27 and in the Navy when he faced an horrendous decision - have his leg amputated or be dead in two hours.

His foot had been crushed during a freak accident as he and his Fleet Air Arm Field Gun Crew were preparing for the Royal Tournament in 1999.

Sean, now a decorated sportsman, said: “As we manoeuvred a 900lb gun across some 28-ft chasm, attempting to connect it to a supportive rope, the barrel dropped from a height of around seven feet, smashing my left foot.”

He had 25 surgeries over a three-month period as surgeons battled to save the foot. His 26th operation finally saw the amputation of his leg.

Sean said: “I developed septicaemia, a form of blood poisoning, and was told I wouldn’t last two hours, with the only choice being amputation. One month later I was given my first prosthetic leg and walked out of the disability centre without the need for a walking stick.”

His aim was to get his job back as an engineer in the Navy that had been his life since he joined up at the age of 18.

He added: “A year after my amputation I passed my 1.5 mile and multi-stage fitness tests using the basic leg provided by the NHS. Now even at 46-years-old, I can get the pass mark required of a 20-year old.”

The Royal Navy gave Sean the opportunity to be retained in service and he’s never looked back. But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Sean in his quest to return to active service, as he endured a battle with a double dose of testicular cancer from 2001 until 2007 when he received the all clear.

The aircraft technician has since served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other achievements have seen him crowned World Indoor Rowing Champion in 2017 and he was a double gold medallist at the Invictus games in 2016.

Sean has also developed a passion for obstacle course racing, in 2008 becoming the first amputee ever to complete one of the first courses he took on. His next will be Total Warrior Leeds event on the weekend of June 23/24. He is doing it for the for Blesma The Limbless Veterans. See visit www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/Sean-a-Gaffney.