An Aberdeen-born amputee is hoping to do the north-east proud at a sports tournament that embodies the spirit of wounded ex-servicemen and women.
Michael Mellon, 38, is flying to Australia today to compete in the Invictus Games in Syndey from October 20.
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Founded by Prince Harry in 2014, the games are an international adaptive sports event for wounded and injured service personnel.
Mr Mellon is Scotland’s only representative in this year’s event, and will participate in three categories: wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball.
The veteran was born in Aberdeen before his family relocated to RAF Lossiemouth in Moray and thence to Germany where his father, also an RAF serviceman, was posted.
After a number of years in the RAF, Mr Mellon was medically discharged in 2005, following damage sustained to his leg.
Despite having 12 operations, he remained in constant pain due to severe nerve damage and, in 2013, decided to have his lower leg amputated.
He said: “It was the hardest call of my life but, I’m glad it worked out to be the right call.
“I get phantom pains a few times a week and there are periods that I can’t wear my prosthetic leg, but I’m a lot more active and in less pain than before the amputation.”
Mr Mellon competed in the 2017 Invictus Games and took a silver in the sitting volleyball and a bronze in wheelchair basketball.
The veteran has been attending regular training camps over the last six months and will begin training in Australia this week.
He said: “It’s been pretty full on. I’ve only been home for three weekends since June and I’ve really missed the family.
“My mum and dad are flying out to watch the Games and my wife and children are also coming, so it will be great to have them there.
“After becoming medically discharged I thought my life was over. But the Invictus Games have been huge for me, a life-changing event.
“Being part of the sitting volleyball team and winning a silver medal last year was exceptional. I wanted to be a part of this year’s team to help my confidence and feel the power of teamwork again.”
The Games feature 500 competitors from 18 nations, who will compete in 11 medal sports.
Help for Heroes
Since becoming a veteran, military charity Help for Heroes has helped Mr Mellon regain a sense of confidence.
The charity offers comprehensive support to those who have suffered life-changing injuries and illnesses while serving their country.
Throughout his Invictus Games career Mr Mellon has received help and support from Help for Heroes – and has even be inspired to work with veterans in the future.
The 38-year-old is a member of the charity’s Band of Brothers fellowship network, which is available to veterans and service personnel who have suffered a permanently life-limiting or career-ending injury or illness during or attributable to their service.
The network is free, confidential offer lifelong access to all the financial and welfare support from Help for Heroes as well as providing opportunities to meet others who are living through similar experiences.
For more information visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk