Bomb blast soldier on the catwalk

Former Para Dean Middleton
Former Para Dean Middleton
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A MIRACLE soldier who survived a roadside explosion which claimed the life of his comrade has strutted his stuff at a charity fashion show.

Dean Middleton, from Seaham, joined current and former members of the Armed Forces who had suffered life-threatening or life-changing injuries, both physically and mentally, at the fundraiser For Help for Heroes.

The 28-year-old was on a routine patrol in the Bowri desert in Central Helmand, Afghanistan, when his armoured vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in 2010.

Corporal Steve Dunn, who was also travelling in the Jackal, was thought to have been sitting close to where the bomb struck and suffered fatal wounds.

The 27-year-old, from Gateshead, was attached to the battalion from another regiment when he died in the attack.

Dean was thrown from his gun position by the force of the blast and knocked unconscious.

He was airlifted to a field hospital and clung to life despite being left with head injuries.

After being flown back to Britain, he then had a life-saving operation to remove a section of his skull to reduce swelling on his brain, before spending weeks in an induced coma in a bid to improve his condition.

He had to endure another major operation when his wound became infected.

But Dean, who served with the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, amazed medics by battling back from the brink of death and, after having a metal plate inserted into his skull, he is now planning a new life after leaving the forces.

Speaking at the fashion show, he said: “I feel tip-top.

“I have always been fit as I was a physical training instructor in the Paras and now I feel back to full fitness.”

The event was held at the Royal British Legion and MoD-funded Help for Heroes Phoenix House at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, which helps injured or traumatised soldiers put their lives back together.

As well as 17 professional models, 13 were serving armed forces personnel and veterans who use the recovery centre.

“I am gutted not to be in the Army any more because it was something I wanted to do for life, but am now looking at a career in personal training or as a retained firefighter,” he added.

“I’m so grateful to Phoenix House for helping me get through this.”