Help for Heroes concert stars injured soldier who inspired the charity

VAUXHALL Male Voice Choir will have a very special guest at their Help for Heroes concert at St Mary’s Church in Luton next month, writes Bev Creagh.

Fijian-born Private Derek Derenalagi, 36, who lost both his legs in a blast in Helmand province in 2007, will represent the organisation that has done so much for him and his badly injured comrades.

He was one of the desperately wounded soldiers who initially inspired Bryn and Emma Parry to start the charity.

The modest and unassuming father-of-one – currently in training for the GB Paralympics squad and described by former England rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio as a ”true hero” – said: “I’m really proud and privileged to be part of the event.

“I’ll share my story about what I went through.

“There’s so much to be done. Too many people are coming back injured. We need to keep on fundraising and never stop.”

Derek, who always dreamed of joining the British Army and signed up for 2 Mercia Regiment in 2000, was keen to express his appreciation to Vauxhall for their support.

The Luton-based company has given him a specially adapted Insignia sports tourer automatic.

He said: “It’s a great help.

“I’m so grateful to them for raising awareness and funds.”

He’s looking forward to hearing VMVC, whose programme includes old favourites like Speed Your Journey, Rose of England and Finlandia.

“I love listening to music,” he told the Luton News.

“I used to sing in the church choir.”

And although his life hasn’t panned out quite as he expected, he is so grateful that he’s alive and able to help others.

“I try to encourage them,” he explained.

“I tell them there’ll be many ups and downs but it won’t get worse, it will get better.

“Any soldier who has gone through the turbulence of the front line will be affected by it.

“The mental trauma will be there for the rest of your life.

“But there is major, major support from Help for Heroes.”

Derek, a born-again Christian, says his faith has helped him along the way.

And he paid tribute to his wife Anna. “She’s also a Christian and a very special lady,” he said. “She has stood beside me 24/7.”

The concert, at 7.30pm on Saturday November 12, will be attended by several dignitaries including the Mayor of Luton Cllr Don Worlding.

The choir will be conducted by Phillida Driver and will feature guest soprano Rachel Maloy.

Tickets are £10 each and every penny will go to the charity.

To book call 01582 427630 or email [email protected]