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Honouring an inspiration – Duncan Slater to receive prestigious civic award from Diss Town Council

By Zach Ward

Duncan Slater
Duncan Slater

One of the region’s role models is to be honoured by Diss Town Council with one of its most prestigious civic awards.

Duncan Slater, of Scole, lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in July 2009, while serving in the RAF.

Scole's Duncan Slater taking part in the Marathon Des Sables. Submitted photo.
Scole's Duncan Slater taking part in the Marathon Des Sables. Submitted photo.

Since then, he has become the first double-leg amputee to ski to the South Pole, and complete the gruelling 156-mile Marathon des Sables in the searing heat of the Sahara.

He now works for Walking With The Wounded, a charity which helps veterans to reintegrate back into society through sustainable employment. Mr Slater engages with young people as part of the charity’s schools programme.

Last week, Diss Town Council unanimously agreed to award him the title of Honorary Freeman.

A report presented to councillors said he had overcome severe adversity, adding: “He has since gone on to not only to lead a fulfilling life as a family man, but also to inspire others with achievements that most able-bodied people would never dream of attempting.”

It is so touching. It is lovely that I have been awarded this
Duncan Slater

Mr Slater said he was “shocked” to learn he was to receive the accolade.

“It is so touching,” he said. “It is lovely that I have been awarded this.

“At the end of the day, they don’t have to do that. The council has got other stuff to be doing, so it is lovely they have gone to the time and the trouble to do it – it is quite a complicated process to do.

“I don’t think people set out to be inspirational. I just want to go and do a few bits and raise some money and awareness – I certainly don’t do it for anything else.”

Duncan Slater at the South Pole
Duncan Slater at the South Pole

He also praised the supportive community, which has backed his numerous challenges over the years.

“I was in Morrisons and someone came up to me and said ‘I just want to shake your hand’,” he said.

“You don’t know why, but it is lovely, and it’s nice that people get behind the things I do and take an interest.”

Diss Town Council leader Graham Minshull said Mr Slater was a contender for the town’s Honoured Citizen title – but it was felt he was deserving of a bigger civic award.

“It is a thoroughly deserved award,” he told the Diss Express. “He has done a lot for the country, and he has done a lot for the town.

“There are a lot of people who would have curled up and said ‘that’s it, I don’t want to do anything any more.’

“But he hasn’t. He had horrific injuries but he turned around and said ‘that is not going to put me down, I am going to get up and start doing stuff’.

“The things he has done with Walking With The Wounded is just amazing. He is a real inspiration for not just disabled people, but for able-bodied people, too.

“I think he is a smashing bloke and it is a well-deserved award.

“I hope that when we present it, people will come out and support him.”

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