An Iraq war veteran from south London has been praised by the Prime Minister after winning a prestigious Soldiering On award recently.

Former Rifleman Stephen Vause was left severely disabled by a bomb blast in Iraq, but won numerous plaudits for his charity fundraising ever since.

The 34-year-old lives at Royal Star and Garter (RSG) home in Surbiton, and was nominated for Soldiering On's 'Inspiration' award by the charity, which provides care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia.

Surrey Comet:

Stephen undertook a gruelling 60-mile virtual London to Brighton cycle ride from his RSG room during the second lockdown, despite his injuries leaving him in a wheelchair and using a tablet to support communication.

His efforts with the support of RSG staff saw him raise over £5,000 for his chosen charity, Help for Heroes, ahead of success in the Soldiering On Awards. 

Stephen's remarkable achievements were praised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said: "Stephen has shown remarkable courage in dealing with his injuries and great fortitude in raising money for armed forces charities. I take my metaphorical hat off to him for his latest fund raising exploit. I am full of admiration for him."

His fellow finalists in the Inspiration category were Margo Hetherington MBE, Mark Ormrod MBE and Martin Hewitt.

After being declared the winner, Stephen said: "I’m stunned. I want to thank everyone who voted for me, but I also want to share this award with the other finalists. They all deserved to win."

RSG said they work closely with Help for Heroes, and the charity previously funded a bespoke wheelchair and specialist gym equipment to support Stephen’s care.

Head of Clinical and Medical Services at Help for Heroes Carol Betteridge OBE said: "Huge congratulations to Steve for winning such a highly fought category where all the finalists are absolute inspirations. Steve fights every day to manage his physical injuries so his fundraising challenge for us was a major undertaking, and he did it with such determination and humour. He shows us all the great things you can achieve when you put your mind to it. He is an absolute hero.”