Leading athlete amputee stranded after thieves stole artificial legs

A Paralympian athlete's artificial legs were stolen just days before he was due to fulfil his dream of walking his sister down the aisle.
Double-amputee Anthony Booth, 33, had spent four painful months learning to walk on the prosthetic limbs in preparation for his sister Angela's wedding, when he is due to give her away.

But his hopes were shattered when thieves stole his car, with the legs inside, from outside his home in Blackley, Greater Manchester.

The father-of-three said: ‘I’m devastated. The limbs are uncomfortable but I wanted to do it for my sister. I wanted it to be the way she wanted.’

Booth is a leading wheelchair athlete who hopes to compete for Britain in the 400 and 800 metre races at the London 2012 Olympics.

He has previously competed in the sledge ice hockey event at the 1998 Winter Paralympics in Japan.

The social car adviser had both legs amputated beneath the knee when he was struck down with meningitis at the age of nine.

He had been practising walking on the artificial legs after Angela asked him to perform the honour when she marries her partner of 20 years, Alan Russell, in front of 150 guests at Manchester Town Hall on Saturday.

His 3,000 wheelchair was also in the car when it was stolen.

Now he will have to go up the aisle in a borrowed wheelchair instead of walking, but he will not be able to accompany Angela in the vintage car she has hired for the occasion.

Booth said: ‘I’m still going to give her away, but it’s not going to be the same.

‘I wanted to do it for her – the way she wanted it. They could’ve waited until after the wedding or just thrown them out of the car.’

Angela, 42, said: ‘It’s terrible – I’m really upset. When my dad passed away 12 years ago I always wanted Anthony to walk me down the aisle because we’re really close.

‘I asked him when I got engaged in February and he said he’d learn to walk on these limbs.

‘He’s learned to walk without using a stick. It’s more for him that I’m upset because I know he really wanted to do it.

‘I can’t understand why someone would’ve taken them – I just hope someone hands them in.’

Police have appealed for help in tracing the thieves.

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