A COURAGEOUS veteran whose battle against chronic pain inspired Prince Harry has been remembered with a lasting tribute.

Former Royal Navy Logistician Anna Kelton's life changed forever when she fell while carrying 85Ibs of equipment during a training exercise with the Royal Marines in 2011.

Having thought she had only fractured her ribs, she discovered that she couldn’t use her legs properly, despite having not injuring them during the fall.

She was diagnosed with conversion disorder, where psychological symptoms are converted to physical symptoms and, from then on, needed to use a wheelchair.

She also suffered from seizures, chronic pain, cluster headaches, memory loss and anxiety.

The Northern Echo:

Anna Kelton in the workshop at Phoenix House

Ms Kelton, of Barnard Castle, was a regular visitor to the Help for Heroes Phoenix House Recovery Centre in Catterick and this week, a weeping cherry tree was planted in the centre's grounds in her memory.

Her mother, Dorothy, said: “If Anna hadn’t come here, she would have had nothing to look forward to so it’s right that the tree should be planted in the garden.

“It suits Anna. She loved gardening, living things and, in particular, cherry trees.

"When someone impacts on your life – and she impacted on so many lives – they shouldn’t be forgotten.”

John Kelso, who was Anna’s key worker, said “Anna brought joy to the centre whenever she came here. For everyone who knew her, her loss was such a tragedy.

"But when this tree blooms in the spring, it will remind us how Anna blossomed all year round.”

While still Serving, and receiving treatment for her injury, Ms Kelton took part in the first Invictus Games, winning two gold medals.

Her bravery and determination brought her to the attention of Prince Harry who sent a letter of condolence on hearing of her death on August 31, last year.

The Northern Echo:

Anna Kelton at the Invictus Games Picture: INVICTUS GAMES FOUNDATION

It was while Anna was at the Games that she heard of Help for Heroes and, on returning home to Barnard Castle to be with parents Dorothy and Anthony, started visiting Phoenix House where she threw herself into as many activities as she was able – from taking part in the fashion show to making wooden pens.

Bob Marshall, who runs the wood workshop said he always looked forward to Anna’s visits because of the ‘positive energy she generated’.

He added: “She took great pride in her appearance and always looked like she was on her way to a photo shoot. She had an imposing presence, engaging smile and her entrance to the workshop was like switching the lights to bright."

This time last year, Anna was looking forward to marrying fiancée James Croxford – like her, a former pupil of Barnard Castle School.

She was having intense physiotherapy in a bid to surprise him by walking down the aisle, and narrowing down her choice of wedding dress.

James, Anna’s brother Luke and her father Anthony all placed soil around the base of the tree in a short ceremony at Phoenix House, attended by other members of her family, friends, Help for Heroes staff and beneficiaries.

The Northern Echo:

Ms Kelton's brother Luke helps plant the tree Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Thanking everyone for attending, and Help for Heroes for supporting and loving Anna, her father said they missed her smiles, her humour, her cheek, her company.

He said she was a free spirit and the tree represented that well.

“What keeps a person going when they are wounded, hurt, full of pain and bewilderment?” he asked. “It needs more than parental love. It needs this place – Phoenix House – and it needs these people. You were so good to Anna and made the difference.

“Thank you for what you did; for carrying her through and sharing her pain. It supported and strengthened her such that she could be full of pain but still be an uplift to all around her. God bless Phoenix House.”