David was born and raised on his family’s farm in East Kent before going to University in Cardiff. After graduating in Ancient History and Religious Studies in 1992 he started officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before being commissioned into the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment in 1993. As a young infantry officer David served on operations in Northern Ireland as well as working in Kenya, Germany and Canada.
In 1999 he was posted to 4th Armoured Brigade in time to take part in the NATO advance into Kosovo He served for 4 months dealing with the aftermath of a bloody ethnic conflict and gaining a real insight into how leaders operate under pressure. After attending the Joint Services Staff College he returned to his battalion in August 2003 to take command of B Company. Soon after he arrived they were warned off to go to Iraq and David started a period of intense training to prepare for what was going to be an extremely difficult tour.
His Brigade arrived in Iraq in April 2004 in time to face the recent Shia uprising and a huge increase in violence. During that time the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment was to face the most intense combat the British Army had seen since Korea. Based in Basra B Company had to work with the local population to try rebuild their shattered city while at the same time facing regular mortar, rocket and machinegun attacks as the insurgency gathered pace. This culminated on 9 August when a British patrol was cut off in the centre of Basra and David and his company were tasked to save them. In a 3 hour battle the patrol was saved but one of the company was killed and 7 wounded, including David. With severe wounds to his chest, right eye, hand and shoulder the surgeon in the field hospital only gave him a 5% chance of survival. However after emergency surgery he returned to hospital in the UK and started on the long road of physical rehabilitation and recovery.
After 4 years rehabilitation including 6 months in Headley Court and over 20 operations David was medically discharged from the Army and returned home to run the family farm. Before leaving he wanted one last challenge. Having been inspired by other amputees who had gone on to run marathons David needed something to test his arms and shoulder. A friend suggested they complete the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race, considered the toughest marathon canoe race in the world. After 4 months hard training they set off on 22 March 2008 and finished 27 hours later having paddled non stop over 125 miles and 77 locks through the worst conditions the 60 year old race had ever seen. They had also managed to raise £22000 for Help for Heroes.
Before he left the Army David had been invited back to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to talk to the cadets about Leadership in Combat. This stared an interest in speaking on the subject that has led to him addressing both military and civilian audiences about the importance and principles of leadership.
David lives in East Kent with his wife, Lara, and 3 children, along with a growing menagerie of pets. When either the farm of the family give him time he attempts to catch trout on the fly.
“Thank you so much for your presentation on Wednesday. It was absolutely excellent and the verbal feedback I have received so far and the fact you got a standing ovation (a first in the history of our events) reflected that.
Thanks again for such an inspiration talk.” – IPIA
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