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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

IRA bomb victim wins role in theatre show

A FORMER squaddie who lost his legs in an IRA bombing is set to appear in his first theatre role.

Darren Swift, 46, was serving with the Royal Green Jackets in Belfast in 1991 when a bomb was hurled into his army compound, ending his career.

The attack left his friend dead and Mr Swift, then 26, with life-threatening injuries.

But despite the odds, he pulled through and has gone on to forge a long career as an extra.

Mr Swift, who wears prosthetic legs, has appeared in shows including Band of Brothers as well as working as a simulated casualty for the Armed Forces.

He is now appearing in the National Theatre’s production of Travelling Light, which is touring the UK.

Mr Swift, who now lives in Grange, said: “This is my first time in theatre, I’ve done TV and film extra work on and off for the past 20 years.

“My agent rang and asked me if I wanted to do it, I said I’m not an actor.

“I was a soldier, that’s all I’d ever done until I was blown up.”

Mr Swift said he started extra work through friends who worked at a film studio around 18 months after the explosion.

He said: “It just seemed natural to get some extra work.

“Basically, I was just doing jobs where they needed someone who had their legs blown off.

“I’ve been doing it for a few years now. It’s no longer therapeutic, it’s work, but at first it was.

“A lot of people do find it helps.”

The play is set around 1900 and tells the story of an Eastern European village and one man’s fascination with moving pictures.

Mr Swift plays a Yiddish Jew who lost his legs in an accident in a sawmill.

Despite only having a small part, Mr Swift said he was thrilled to be taking part in the production.

He said: “I’m loving it, it’s really good fun.

“It’s great to be involved, it’s only a small part.

“It’s challenging but a nice challenge – when you come onto the stage, it feels good.

“For me it’s a good play to be in – there’s a quite a few laughs, I like a bit of comedy.”

Travelling Light appears at the Lowry in Salford from March 13 to 17, and then visits the Grand Theatre in Leeds from March 20 to 24, the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury, from March 27 to 31 and the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, from April 3 to 7.

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