News and Star Newspaper, Monday 25th May 2015

 Cumberland News, News and Star, Mark Harding

THE portrait of a former Cumbrian soldier is due to appear in a London exhibition to raise awareness about the effects of war on wounded servicemen and women . 

War Paint, a selection of life-sized paintings, will feature a portrait of Lance Corporal Mark Harding, who was seriously wounded and told he would never walk again after being shot by the Taliban in 2010. 

The 39-year-old, from Wigton, was on tour in Afghanistan with the 

Reconnaissance Sniper Platoon 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. 

While securing the area for a bomb disposal team Mark was shot through his spinal cord. 

“I was trying to figure out why I couldn’t move to help someone. One of the guys said ‘Mark I think you’ve been shot’. I looked down and the whole left hand side of my body was covered in bl o o d , ” he said. 

He blacked out a few times while being transferred from the field to Camp Bastion. At one point he recalls coming round. He said: “I can only describe it like popcorn in a microwave. There was bullets pinging off the wagon.” 

Mark was put in a coma and transferred home. He was paralysed from the neck down for seven months and spent three years in rehabilitation at Headley Cour t. 

War Paint artist Caroline de Peyrecave said: “F rom the outset of the Afghan conflict, I was deeply moved by the great courage of our brave servicemen and women. But especially the wounded who, blighted in the flowering of their lives, have shown such fortitude and optimism. 

“I want to show the casualties that will inevitably follow in future conflicts that there is life after devastating injury.” 

Mark is now an ambassador for the Army Benevolent Fund’s Soldiers’ Char ity. He does a lot of fundraising and motivational speaking around the UK. 

He is also the only disabled person in the International Dragon Boat Federation and was the first disabled person to make it in to an able-bodied team. Last year he competed in Hong Kong as part of Team GB and came tenth. 

Jenny Brown