A FORMER soldier who was told he would never walk again has defied odds and completed a gruelling challenge that saw him row across the Atlantic Ocean - all from his garden.

Mark Harding, from Wigton, was serving with 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment when he was shot by a Taliban sniper during a tour of Afghanistan in 2010.

The shot shattered the vertebrae in his neck and left him paralysed from the neck down. But, through sheer determination, three years later he was back on his feet and he said he owed his life to NHS staff.

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has supported him considerably; it provided him funds for home adaptations and a specialist wheelchair, helping him to live as independently as possible.

It then helped him take up kayaking by giving him a grant for a Kayak Ergo trainer and a multi gym so he could train at home, as well an outrigger VA Kayak for him to train outdoors at Derwent Marina.

Mr Harding’s row was the equivalent of Wigton to Antigua on a kayak machine in his garden to show gratitude for NHS staff.

He was supposed to be taking on the challenge for real two years ago, but couldn’t because of an injury and since then it has been playing on his mind.

Talking about how the challenge went, he said: “It’s taken 88 days.

“I just got on with it really, I wanted to tick it off in my head. It’s giving back to the NHS.

“I’m blown away with the support I’ve received. It’s been nice to get the support and to support the NHS.”

To donate, visit virginmoneygiving.com/MarkHarding27.