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Thread: The most beautiful wedding of the year as scarred soldier marries his sweetheart

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    Silver Member jlo25's Avatar
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    Default The most beautiful wedding of the year as scarred soldier marries his sweetheart

    Forget spoilt footballers and minor Royals. Yesterday, Miss Michelle Clifford married Lance-Corporal Martyn Compton. And the terrible injuries he suffered in Afghanistan could not diminish the towering, inspirational love they share...

    The walk down the aisle yesterday was only a matter of yards. Yet for Martyn Compton it meant everything. Indeed, his determination to make the distance was matched only by that of the beautiful young woman he was about to marry.

    And when he falteringly held out his hand for her to slip the gold ring on his finger, they both finally fulfilled the dream they had fought desperately against all the odds to make a reality.
    It was so nearly destroyed when, two years ago, Martyn, a Lance-Corporal in the Household Cavalry, was badly burned in an ambush in Afghanistan. Suffering from 70 per cent burns, he was in a coma for three months.

    Enlarge
    Wedding bliss: Martyn Compton married Michelle Clifford in Kent on Saturday
    When he regained consciousness, his once handsome face and honed body were ravaged. His eyelids had been fused inside out and he had lost his ears, nose and hair. He was told he might never walk, nor use his arms, again.

    His catastrophic injuries came to represent the tragic cost of British troops being sent to the Middle East, and his heroism in overcoming them made headlines around the world.
    Among those ‘humbled’ by Martyn’s bravery was his friend and colleague Prince William, who paid tribute to his bravery in a special City Salute pageant in London in May. ‘Compo, you’re more famous than me,’ the Prince joked recently. ‘You’re in the papers every day.’
    Then, last month, his ordeal made the news again when it emerged the Ministry of Defence had offered him only 163,000 compensation, far less than the maximum of 285,000.

    But to his bride Michelle he is not merely a symbol of courage, nor yet another serviceman who has been bitterly betrayed by the MoD, he is her husband, her soul mate and the man she loves just as much now as the day they first met.
    And their wedding yesterday – held at a Kent manor house and in the company of their 100 closest relatives and friends – was as much a mark of Michelle’s own strength and devotion as it was a testament to their love for each other.
    ‘People keep saying I’m inspirational and strong,’ says Michelle. ‘But I can’t see it myself. It never crossed my mind that I couldn’t handle what had happened. I fell in love with Martyn’s cheeky smile and sparkling eyes. When I look at him now that is still what I see.’
    Martyn with Michelle before his injuries, which left him with over 70 per cent burns, a broken arm and a bullet in his leg

    Martyn, meanwhile – a softly spoken, reserved 24-year-old who exhibits a remarkable lack of anger or self-pity – credits his new wife for his extraordinary recovery.

    ‘Michelle is my rock,’ he says. ‘Without her, I wouldn’t have survived. I had to be here to stand at her side.’
    The couple met in 2006 and clicked immediately. ‘He was easy to talk to and genuine,’ said Michelle, a 27-year-old secondary school teacher whose surname until yesterday was Clifford.

    Martyn was equally smitten. ‘She was bubbly and positive, and quickly became a mate as well as a girlfriend,’ he says.
    In June 2006, Martyn, whose mother died of a brain haemorrhage giving birth to his sister, Lorraine, when he was three, had a ring made in secret and proposed at Michelle’s family home in Frittenden, Kent.
    Two weeks later, he left for his four-month stint in Afghanistan’s notorious Helmand province.

    ‘We both cried,’ Michelle admits. ‘I could see he was far more aware of the risks than I was.

    We went for a long walk before he went and chatted about the wedding plans I was going to make while he was away. I told him to do what he had to do, then come back safely to me.’
    Martyn adds: ‘I felt very emotional leaving her. But once I arrived and had spoken to her on the phone I just got on with things. I also made sure I regularly sent her bouquets of flowers.’
    As the weeks passed Michelle got used to having her fiance in a war zone. ‘His dad would call or text me whenever there was a report about soldiers being shot or blown up.

    'This sounds awful, but I started ignoring his calls – it was the only way I could cope.’
    Five weeks into his stay, on August 1, 2006, Martyn’s troop was in Helmand, accompanying Danish soldiers who had been repeatedly ambushed while trying to collect supplies.

    He was on driving duty because the regular man was sick. The convoy was in a village that appeared to have been abandoned when Taliban fighters suddenly started firing from high walls on either side of the road.
    he vehicle in front kept going and as his commander, sitting behind him, told Martyn to reverse, a roadside bomb hit their vehicle. The back of their armoured Scimitar was blown off, killing the commander and two others.
    A rocket-propelled grenade then struck the vehicle’s engine, which exploded and engulfed Martyn’s upper body and face in flames.

    Jumping out of the Scimitar, he broke his arm but managed to pull off his body armour and helmet with the one that remained intact before rolling around in the sand to try to put out the flames.

    Then, as he crawled down the valley to look for cover behind a wall, a Taliban fighter shot him in his right leg.
    ‘I didn’t feel it but saw my leg fly out to one side,’ Martyn says. ‘I thought I was going to die and felt so terrible for not marrying Michelle. I could only think of her and the wedding she was planning. If I didn’t get out of this, then I was letting her down.’
    Having realised he was missing, his colleagues came back and risked their lives to rescue him, hauling his body into the safety of their tank. Martyn was rushed back to Camp Bastion, the British forces’ base, and airlifted to hospital in the UK. He ‘died’ three times on the long journey but each time was revived.
    Martyn’s father, Rob, a lorry driver, called Michelle to tell her what had happened. ‘Initially, it just didn’t sink in,’ she recalls. ‘They told us Martyn’s injuries were serious and he was on his way home; they didn’t know any more.
    ‘My first thought was that I was going to see Martyn again, months earlier than I expected. That’s my positive nature. I just told myself we were going to be together again.’
    She and Mr Compton went together to Broomfield Hospital burns unit in Chelmsford, Essex, where Martyn had been taken.

    Enlarge
    Military send-off: Martyn and Michelle step into their wedding vehicle
    ‘He was covered from head to toe in bandages and his body had swelled up to about four times its normal size,’ Michelle says. ‘I didn’t trust myself to speak without breaking down, so I just sat with him and told him silently that I loved him and that he had to live.’
    For the next three months, she sat at his bedside every day, except for Sundays when his father stayed with him so she could play football and try to relax.

    She played his favourite songs, such as Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison and Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, endlessly.
    She whispered that she would wait for him and told him gossip about their family and friends.
    And, of course, she watched in anguish as he underwent 15 operations. Some were skin grafts using skin grown artificially as not enough of his own was available.

    With 70 per cent burns, Martyn’s weakened body succumbed to infection from flesh-eating bugs that he’d acquired rolling in the sand.

    At one point his temperature soared to a life-threatening 43C (110F). Michelle was warned that if he did regain consciousness, he could lose an arm and a leg and that his chances of ever walking again were slim.
    Yet, after three months, he came round.
    ‘I’d plastered photographs all over his room,’ she says. ‘Pictures of the venue where I had booked our wedding, photos of the two of us together on holiday in Cyprus, family parties, his dad, my parents, even my parents’ dog.

    ‘When he opened his eyes, the first thing I wanted him to see was his loved ones.

    When I went in one day he was sitting up in bed. He looked at me and said, “Hello babe, how are you?” It was typical of Martin to be thinking of me.’

    Enlarge
    Martyn and Michelle cutting the wedding cake
    Four months after what the couple refer to with breathtaking understatement as ‘the incident’, Martyn – who had been transferred from Broomsfield to Headley Court military hospital in Surrey for rehabilitation – saw himself in the mirror for the first time.
    ‘There were just the two of us when I held the mirror up for him,’ says Michelle. ‘I knew I had to be firm and confident so as he looked I said, “If you turn into a recluse, you will no longer be you and I am walking out.”'
    Martyn adds: ‘I thought I looked so horrible I cried for an hour. I still felt like myself on the inside, I just didn’t look like me on the outside.’
    Michelle cried too as she held him. ‘I didn’t let him go until he stopped,’ she says. ‘He told me he’d understand if I didn’t marry him looking like this, that we could call the wedding off. But I didn’t want to hear about him giving up.

    He was still the man I loved and looking into his eyes, I knew we could get through this.’
    Over the next year, she helped Martyn on his slow and painful road to recovery, feeding him like a child, washing his face and brushing his teeth.

    His arms were bent 90 degrees at the elbows and locked in that position, and his skin needed moisturising every few hours.
    ‘I had been strong and independent and it wasn’t easy to have to be cared for,’ says Martyn. ‘But the truth is I’d never have made it without her.’
    Besides, they had already set their wedding date. And even though he knew his frame was shrinking too much to be able to wear his uniform on their big day, Michelle refused to let him give up.



    And, in January this year, a month after leaving hospital, he defied the doctors’ predictions and walked a few paces.
    ‘At the moment I get all sorts of aches and pains if I go any distance but I have set myself the challenge of doing a half marathon as part of Walk New York in November in aid of the Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund,’ he says.
    Following yesterday’s open-air ceremony at the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, near Folkestone, Kent, the couple will today leave for a lavish two-week honeymoon, a gift from the travel company Abercrombie & Kent, at a secret location.
    But when they return, Martyn will go back into Headley Court. He will have four weeks of intensive physiotherapy interspersed by two weeks at the modern three-bedroom semi near Hastings that is now home to him and Michelle.
    So far he has undergone 60 hours of surgery, the most recent to rebuild his upper lip and left cheek. The next will be to reconstruct his nose.

    His ears will be ‘regrown’ with cartilage from his ribs. Because the skin on his scalp is still raw, he has to wear factor 50 sunscreen, even on cloudy days.
    Yet despite everything, Martyn – who joined the Army straight out of school and believes he will be now medically discharged – does not regret enrolling.
    ‘Not at all,’ he replies. ‘I started going astray as a young teenager and decided instead to make something of my life.’
    His Army pension is worth about 20,000 a year. To augment it Martyn is thinking of doing motivational talks and is writing a book about his experiences that will be published next spring.
    While friends and family have been supportive, Michelle struggles with strangers’ reactions.
    ‘I notice it more than Martyn,’ she says. ‘Kids stare at him because they don’t know any different. However, when adults keep looking I stare right back until they realise their insensitivity and turn away.
    ‘If you look beyond the scars though, like I do, Martyn is still there.’
    With astounding matter-of-factness, Martyn adds: ‘What happened to me was just one of those things. There is no point in being bitter.’
    His injuries won’t prevent the couple having children, and they plan to start a family as soon as possible. ‘Of course it was difficult to have a physical relationship at first,’
    Michelle explains. ‘But we learned to take things slowly. Cuddles counted for a lot. I can touch and hold him just as I did before. I think what we have been through takes a relationship to a whole new level. It goes beyond sexual attraction.
    ‘Now we’ve discovered so much more about each other. We’ve proved it’s true love.’

    Additional reporting:
    Marnie Summerfield Smith

    Most beautiful wedding of the year: Scarred soldier marries his sweetheart | Mail Online


    This is what i call a truly heartwarming story; when i read it i was in tears.
    Last edited by jlo25; July 14th, 2008 at 06:06 AM. Reason: Added the link!

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    what a wonderful story. i love the wedding cake
    Basic rule of Gossip Rocks: Don't be a dick.Tati
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I hope they have a long happy life.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Silver Member Sibyl's Avatar
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    Reading this made me cry. I think they're both extraordinary people.
    No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world

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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    I give it 3 years TOPS.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^^
    i don't think they'll make it to 2.
    funny they published this today, i just saw a similar piece about another disfigured soldier who married his girlfriend. after 15 months, they split up, she found someone else, and he's in constant pain and on antidepressants and needs a small pharmacy of meds every day just to get by. he lives off his veteran's pension because he can't work. i know it's mean but i don't blame the girl for bolting.
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    I don't see a fairytale ending.

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    Elite Member Rondette's Avatar
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    Good luck to them. I don't think I could cope with having to live with that poor guy, it's not just the fact he looks like Skeletor, but also the prohibited life he must lead. I wonder if, down the way, Mrs wife will wonder about all the 'normal' stuff she is missing out on...walks and holidays and coupley stuff.
    My heart goes out to the guy, I don't know how I'd deal with it if it happened to me or my hubbo, but to lose my looks (such as they are) and independence like that...eghh, I think I'd rather be alone. I'd be a bitter jealous type that spent my life on the internet.



    oh.

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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    ^^^^
    i don't think they'll make it to 2.
    funny they published this today, i just saw a similar piece about another disfigured soldier who married his girlfriend. after 15 months, they split up, she found someone else, and he's in constant pain and on antidepressants and needs a small pharmacy of meds every day just to get by. he lives off his veteran's pension because he can't work. i know it's mean but i don't blame the girl for bolting.
    I can't blame her either, but my husband wouldn't go in the first place; I would break his legs before they could ship him off.

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    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    Good luck to them both. What a horrible situation to be in. The guy has to live forever like that and in a lot of pain. I feel for her too. It's not going to be easy living with someone in that unfortunate situation.

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    Elite Member Moongirl's Avatar
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    Regis and Kelly held a similar wedding ceremony a few years ago, and Seal was there to sing "Love's Divine". Needless to say, I bawled like a baby...
    Last edited by Moongirl; July 14th, 2008 at 06:29 PM. Reason: correct song title

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Love the cakes

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    I love her flowers.

    I hate to say it, but he looks so scary. Poor guy, what a shitty thing to have happen.

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    Elite Member Rica's Avatar
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    I admire her. Shes strong.

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    He's still going to have the nose surgery, just my opinion but having the nose reconstruction will make a huge difference in his appearance. As he heals further he should look better.

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