Invictus Games Competitor and British Army veteran Ashley Hall fought back after a terrorist bomb took off both his legs and part of his left hand while on duty in Afghanistan, but even he was unprepared by the callous thieves who stole his specially adapted bike – and his route back to mobility and a more normal life
Now thanks to Essex Freemasons, Ashley, aged 28, is back in the saddle four months after thieves broke into the shed at his Colchester home, taking the bike and most importantly, the special components that enabled him to ride it.
After his story was featured in the Colchester Gazette newspaper, Rodney Bass, Provincial Grand Master for Essex, immediately offered to replace the bike; a task that took four months and the skill of experts from across Europe to fulfil.
'Raising the £8,000 to replace the bike and purchase the modifications was the easy bit,' said Rodney, who officially presented Ashley with his new machine at the St Giles Masonic Centre in Colchester on 19th October.
'We had to approach a specialist company in Austria, the only one that could build the bespoke specification needed and even they had to order and adapt a wide range of additional components to complete the job. It was a long wait but worth it to be able to get Ashley back in the saddle.
'I was particularly appalled by the fact that thieves who have probably contributed little to the community, had deprived a brave Army veteran, seriously disabled serving his country, and my members agreed. I am delighted we could help.'
For Ashley, who was serving in the Royal Engineers in 2007 as part of a bomb disposal team at the time of his injury, it is a dream come true. 'I wanted to do all the things that I had enjoyed before the incident,” he said.
'One of these was riding a bike again on just two wheels, a thing that most people take for granted. The thieves stopped that on the day they broke into my shed.'
Not that Ashley is man who is easily deterred. In 2017, he competed in the wheelchair rugby event in Prince Harry’s Invictus Games and today practices martial arts – he is a blue belt in Brazilian Jujitsu. At the time of the robbery he was in Anglesey in North Wales competing for Team Brit, a racing car event.
Freemasons from across the country paid their respects on Remembrance Day to remember our country’s gallant servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice
At 11am on Sunday 12th November 2017, a two-minute silence was held to remember those who lost their lives in war. Provinces, Lodges and individual members from around the country paid their respects, as they laid wreaths to honour our fallen heroes including many Freemasons.
At the Cenotaph memorial, the Prince of Wales led the commemorations and laid the first wreath at the base of the Whitehall monument on behalf of the Queen, who observed the service from a balcony alongside Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, The Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Princess Royal and the United Grand Lodge of England’s Grand Master, The Duke of Kent all laid wreaths.
Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view some of the parades and services where Freemasons paid their respects