Amputee student follows new passion

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A student who took the momentous decision to have a leg amputated during a critical year at school has taken up snow-boarding.

Monty Merchie is taking his A-levels at Ripon Grammar School this summer and is then looking forward to taking a gap year that will include working during a ski season and travelling in South America.

The 18-year-old made national headlines two years ago when he took his GCSEs while still recovering from the amputation.

A keen cyclist, Monty went on to ride 250km around France in the summer after losing his leg and then took up running. He started snowboarding last year.

“I suppose what happened to my leg makes me a bit more reckless. Coming down slopes really fast and flying is great fun, I really enjoy it,” he said.

Monty, who lives near Boroughbridge, is planning to read Arabic and Spanish at university after his gap year. He spent his early childhood in Venice and already speaks fluent Italian, and his father is French.

“I didn’t want to go straight to university because I wanted to travel and do other things that I might not get the chance to do after university,” explained Monty.

He was born with a congenital malformation in the bones in his left leg and endured 25 operations, including having the malformation removed, but the surgery was not entirely successful and he still had to walk with crutches for ten years.

Six months before his exams, after infection had gone through more bone, he decided to have the leg amputated and replaced with a prosthetic.

“It was quite an easy decision to make in the end. I was just ready to get on with life,” he said, after gaining ten GCSEs including two A*s and three A grades.

He is taking A-levels in maths, Spanish and French, and plays piano and guitar.

Martin Pearman, Headmaster at Ripon Grammar School, said: “Monty is a very special young man, courageous, determined and truly inspirational.

“He is proof that, with the right mindset, it is possible to overcome really tough challenges in life. Now there’s just no stopping him!”