Former soldier blinded in Iraq to cycle the length of the country
An Army veteran who vowed being blinded in Iraq would not hold him back is preparing to cycle the length of the country.
Craig Lundberg, 33, lost his sight after he was hit by rocket-propelled grenades while serving with the Duke of Lancaster regiment Second Battalion in Iraq in March 2007.
Twelve years on, the now father-of-three, from Liverpool, will be cycling on a tandem from Lands End to John O’Groats next month.
Mr Lundberg also sustained wounds to his arm and face when he was injured in the attack on a rooftop in Basra.
He lost his sight completely, despite efforts to save his right eye, which had shrapnel in, and now has two prosthetic eyes.
Then just 21, he had to leave the Army and, after his discharge from hospital, went to stay at the Ovingdean centre set up by charity Blind Veterans UK in Brighton.
He said: “I dealt with it OK, I think I knew the risks of being Iraq and at the end of the day I was not a conscript, I was a volunteer.”
The lance corporal, who joined the Army at 16, met veterans from the Second World War during his stay at the centre.
He remembers one man, who had been blinded in the Battle of El Alamein aged 19, who told him “don’t let your blindness determine who you are”.
He said the veteran, in his 80s, had run a successful business, had children and grandchildren and was at the centre to learn how to send emails.
“I sat there and thought why can’t I better him, what’s my excuse not to have a better life,” Mr Lundberg said.
“The society I live in is a lot more accepting than it was for him so I thought I should better him, in a positive way.”
Since leaving the Army, Mr Lundberg’s achievements include running the London Marathon, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and playing blind football for England.
He and partner Nicola Carter, who have children Ben, seven, Max, three, and one-year-old Sofia, run an estate agents together and he also has a portfolio of property.
His next challenge, the tandem ride which will start on June 11 and should take 10 days, is to raise money for Blind Veterans UK and Vision Aid Overseas.
He said: “I count myself very lucky I can do these things.
“Two of my team didn’t come home from Iraq and nine of my battalion have mums, dads, wives, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters and kids who haven’t got them in their lives any more.
“If they could do half of the things I have done I’m sure they’d be very grateful.”
Mr Lundberg, who lives in Mossley Hill, Liverpool, will be joined on the trip by pilot rider Callum Edge, 56, from Delamere in Cheshire, as well as a team of other cyclists.
Mr Edge said: “I think what Craig is doing for Blind Veterans UK is proving what is achievable for a blind person and I think that in a way is as valuable as the fundraising.”
To donate, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/BlindTandemChallenge.