Double Invictus Games Gold medallist, Dave Watson, joins the BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Dave has joined our BRIT Ambassador family.
Dave is a triple amputee who has represented Great Britain at two Invictus Games and has won two gold medals in the discus, gold in the shot put and two silver medals in indoor rowing.
“From my personal experience in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, and having adapted to the challenges of living with a disability, I know how important it is to have the right support to deal with mental health issues and how good physical activity can be to your overall wellbeing. Pre-COVID-19, there was already an increase in the numbers of young adults who were experiencing mental health challenges in their lives. COVID-19 has affected the mental health of so many young adults and we need to do all we can to ensure they avoid suffering from long-term mental health difficulties.
With restrictions in place, many Royal Navy, Royal Marine, Army and Royal Air Force regulars, reservists and cadets are not able to spend time together, play team sport and enjoy the friendships and comradeship that are such important aspects of life in uniform.
The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) are a collaborative charity who are uniting the Education, Sport and Charity sectors to support and improve the mental health and fitness of millions of students and young adults throughout the UK, and have extended the BRIT 2021 Challenge invitation to all three services.
Their BRIT 2021 Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to improve the mental health and fitness of students at every UK university and college, and there is no reason whatsoever why regular, reservist and cadet units cannot enter teams and take on the challenge too. It is a great way to reconnect, engage as a team and add distance to your unit’s 2,021 mile target.
I hope all three services embrace the BRIT 2021 Challenge and encourage as many personnel to take part as possible. It’s a super challenge that can enable regulars, reservists and cadets to unite wherever they are (at home or on base) and take part in a feel-good challenge to raise vital funds for charities who support young adult mental health, all while improving mental health and fitness.
There are many ways to add distance to your team’s target including wheel-chair pushing, walking, jogging, running, cycling, hand-cycling, swimming, adaptive rowing, rowing or paddling; this means wounded veterans can take part alongside serving personnel. Every cadet unit in the UK can enter teams too and this could be a great opportunity for all cadets to maintain good health and fitness, and show leadership by coordinating teams at the college or university they attend.
I am delighted to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family and look forward to encouraging and supporting Her Majesty's Armed Forces regulars, reservists and cadets as they take on the BRIT 2021 Challenge.”
Dave achieved his lifetime ambition to serve in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and joined the Scots Guards in 2008.
In 2010, whilst serving on Operational Duty with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, Dave’s life changed forever when he was on a foot patrol, tasked to find an improvised explosive device. As Dave turned to help a fellow guardsmen who had fallen down, he twisted to turn and stepped on a hidden bomb that resulted in the loss of both legs and his right forearm.
For many, this would have meant the end to an active life. This is where Dave’s true courage and determination shone through.
Remarkably, back in the UK, Dave was learning to walk on prosthetic legs within weeks of sustaining his injuries. Following extensive hospital and rehabilitative treatment, Dave was medically discharged from the Army in 2014.
Dave struggled to walk on his prosthetic legs because of pain caused by the sockets; a problem not uncommon among amputees. He was frequently confined to a wheelchair and then in 2015, Dave learnt of a then-pioneering procedure in Australia that eliminated the need for sockets by fusing artificial limbs to human bone. Encouraged by the prospect that the surgery might dramatically improve his quality of life, Dave approached the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to ask for help to fund the operation. As the surgery wasn’t a recognised procedure, Dave and his wife, Rebecca, used the money from his Army compensation package to fund the operation. The MoD has since announced it is funding a trial for 20 veterans in need of the same surgery.
Despite this setback, Dave has made great progress in his recovery journey. Following his operation, he discovered a passion for adaptive sport and has become an inspirational athlete. One of the things that kept him going was his positive attitude.
Vowing not to lose his identity, Dave began developing his skills in the discus and shot put, and started to attend The Invictus Games. Prior to each Invictus Games, participants go through a selection process and Dave was selected to represent Great Britain in Toronto, Canada in 2017.Dave won gold in the discus and bronze in the shot put.
In 2018, Dave was selected to represent Great Britain at the Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia. He retained his gold in the discus, won gold in the shot put and won two silvers for indoor rowing.
Dave has set his sights on representing Great Britain in the Paralympics.
He is an ambassador for the Fisher House Foundation which is a respite facility in Birmingham for wounded veterans and their families. Dave is also a motivational speaker and uses his experiences to encourage and support others. His outlook on life is nothing short of remarkable.