A SOLDIER who was in a coma for 26 weeks and thought he would never return to the army has spoken of his fight to return to service.

Fusilier Antony Willis, who serves in the Royal Welsh based in Tidworth, sustained a traumatic brain injury after a car crash on November 26, 2016 on the A338.

He had two bleeds on the brain as well as broken bones in his lower back and fractured vertebrae in his neck.

The 22-year-old had to be put in an induced coma for 26 weeks to help the swelling on his brain go down.

“I was told I wasn't going to return to service,” Antony said: “It was devastating because I joined [the army] straight from school. I spent all my life in the army.”

But last year, he was able to rejoin his unit thanks to support from Help for Heroes at its Headley Court rehabilitation centre. He was at Headley Court from March 10, 2017 until November 25, 2017.

“I’ve come a long way from what I was,” said Antony. “The first initial three months I struggled to gain the concept of what happened to me and what I was doing at Headley Court. Then the rehab started to kick in, then my brain started, like a computer, to reboot itself. My brain started to switch back on so I started to remember things and stuff I did and could do.”

Now, he wants to give back to the charity that supported him.

He will be cycling 531 miles over six events events each month, starting on February 24 in Cambridge.

Antony said: “If I was left in a normal hospital and I didn’t have that facility in Help for Heroes to pay for some of my rehab I wouldn’t have had the rehab I’ve had or I wouldn’t have returned to work. It’s been a big part of my life, Help for Heroes, for the last three years.”

He added: “I returned to work full-time and am fully deployable now, I can return to normal. Five hundred and thirty one miles is the least I can do for an amazing charity.”

To make a donation to support Antony’s cycle challenge click here.