A Catterick Army veteran who lost the use of his arm when he was hit by an IED in Afghanistan has made the final of a prestigious awards.

Mark Tonner, who suffered PTSD after his horrific experience in Afghanistan in 2010, has battled through mental and physical pain to become three times champion in the World’s Strongest Disabled Man contest.

He has now been nominated for a Soldiering On award, which celebrate the Armed Forces Community.

Mark has made it to the last three in the Sporting Excellence category, which honours someone who has overcome challenges and demonstrated outstanding achievement.

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The public vote is now open until Sunday, August 14, and the winner will be announced at a gala dinner in London on October 27.

The Northern Echo: Mark Tonner has made the final of the Soldiering On awardsMark Tonner has made the final of the Soldiering On awards

Mark, who is also a two-time Britain’s Strongest Disabled Man title holder, adapted his physical training to push himself and inspire others every day.

Before his injury he served in the Cheshire and Mercian regiments for 15-years and said: “What I do is I try and help as many people as I can realise that sport and fitness is another way of treating mental health.

"I am a big believer of a healthy mind and a healthy body, which is what I do on a daily basis.”

Help for Heroes funded a personal training course to combine Mark's teaching skills and his love of the gym and it proved a turning point.

He now has his own personal training business Mind Over Body and has worked with the British Olympic team, triathletes and powerlifters.

He was also a vital member of the Help for Heroes team at the Mey Highland Games in 2019 which introduced him to competitive weightlifting, which he now describes as his ‘therapy’.

The Northern Echo: Mark Tonner competing at the Veterans Hub in Newton Aycliffe in February this year Picture: Sarah CaldecottMark Tonner competing at the Veterans Hub in Newton Aycliffe in February this year Picture: Sarah Caldecott

He regularly competes at events with the Wounded Highlanders and successfully defended his World’s Strongest Disabled Man title in Iceland last November.

At the contest he broke a world record by lifting 280kg (44 stone) with one arm.

This year he took part in a 24-hour weightlifting challenge, which saw him lifting a total of 78,150 kilos – the equivalent of three Apache helicopters.

As well as securing a Guinness World Record, he raised £2,000 for charity to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention.

Mark, 38, added: “I’ve had to overcome a lot of personal stuff and it’s made me more resilient.

"Now, I feel both physically and mentally strong, I have a career I love and I’ve got my life back.

"I don’t believe there’s anything I can’t do.”

Help for Heroes’ Clinical and Medical Services Team has also been named a finalist in the Soldiering On 2022 ‘Healthcare & Rehabilitation’ award. 

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