Army veteran still lives active life after losing use of both legs

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An army veteran wants to inspire people to take part in sport after losing the use of both of his legs.

David Denholm, whose injuries were sustained in the 1980’s when he was a serving soldier, still regularly plays sport and coaches others to see past their disabilities.

He said: "I am a golfer, an angler, I have played tennis and rugby. I have also done archery and kayaking and even climbed mountains.

"With my kayak I have one that is more open and not closed. With someone with my sort of disabilities it is easier to access and easier to get off and on of."

David did not want to reveal his condition to members of his family for a year. Credit: ITV

When David sustained his injuries he came out of hospital on crutches.

"Three days later this man arrived from NHS Lanarkshire," he said. "A pram for a man arrived, it had four wee wheels.

"I said to them put it back in your van because I am not going to sit in it. I said put it in that skip over there because you are not leaving it for me.

"I had a year of nothing. It was a complete year of not wanting to go out the house, not wanting to tell my own children or share it with my grandchildren.

"If they came to see me I was sat on the couch with no chairs or sticks in sight. I hid it for a whole year, only my wife knew about it, nobody else."

Acceptance soon did come for this former veteran, which included a determination to use sport to help others.

David began training for the Invictus Games and got a teaching and coaching job with Dumfries and Galloway College.

He also became chairman of the region's disability sports group.

He said: "We are there to promote inclusion and to promote a pathway for people who wish to compete as well. More importantly we engage people in communities who otherwise would not have something to get them active."

In Scotland, more than a fifth of the population - around one million people - class themselves as disabled.

Dumfries table tennis club holds a session for people with physical and mental conditions.

David said: "Some of the people who come today are non verbal. Yet here they can have a conversation with me or someone else.

David coaches table tennis in Dumfries. Credit: ITV

"When they relax and are playing the sport it is a vehicle for communication. It might just be giving a compliment following a good shot or play. They inspire me to do what I do."

He believes that sport and still being able to play has kept his life positive, along with the love and support of his wife.

"Sport is a wonderful thing," he said. "It doesn’t have to be organised sport or competitive it just has to be in a public park with a putter potting a ball or with a racket hitting a ball. That is still being active.

"For me all my sport is done in a chair so when I come kayaking I feel free from it all. Sometimes I go out there and think about life and it makes me smile.

"It makes me appreciate what I am able to do sometimes reflecting back on my life and my family. I am joyful for what I am able to do. My wife and sport have saved me."

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