Disabled veteran completes 11-day challenge despite paralysed arm

David Rose, from Downham Market, completed his Christmas challenge to support veteran mental health on New Year's Eve.

David Rose, from Downham Market, completed his Christmas challenge to support veteran mental health on New Year's Eve. - Credit: David Rose

A disabled Norfolk veteran has completed an 11-day physical challenge to help others 'overcome their challenges' following the impact of the pandemic.

David Rose, 51, from Downham Market, took on a 'one armed' Walking Home for Christmas challenge to raise vital funds for charity Walking With The Wounded in aid of veteran mental health.

The former aircraft technician in the RAF has been taking part in fundraising efforts for wounded and sick veterans and in raising awareness of adapting to life-changing injuries or illnesses following his own wounds in service.

David Rose, from Downham Market, completed his Christmas challenge to support veteran mental health on New Year's Eve.

David Rose, from Downham Market, completed his Christmas challenge to support veteran mental health on New Year's Eve. - Credit: David Rose

Mr Rose damaged his right shoulder while on duty in 2009, which over time caused his whole arm to become paralysed, bar his thumb.

The 51-year-old, who joined the RAF on September 16, 1986, has been left with internal damage which causes him "considerable pain and spasms" which are treated by a spinal cord stimulator (electronic implant) and medication.

He said: "There is very little sensation felt on the arm, so it’s perfect for vaccinations, but I have to protect it with an orthosis or sling, otherwise I could catch it or damage it without knowing.

David Rose Cyprus 1995.

David Rose Cyprus 1995. - Credit: Help for Heroes

"I was right-handed so had to relearn to do things with the left and become single handed.

"From opening a jar through to typing and sport, I've learnt to adapt, which is what I've done with this challenge."

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Mr Rose was medically discharged in February 2018, and now uses physical activity such as cycling as a form of therapy.

He first started riding a recumbent trike as part of a recovery course when he was struggling to come to terms with his injuries.

He has since competed in triathlons, the 2018 Warrior Games, UK Invictus Trials in 2019 and other extreme challenges.

David Rose with wife Sadie at Invictus UK trials.

David Rose with wife Sadie at Invictus UK trials. - Credit: David Rose

The 51-year-old has been working in the military charity sector following a few roles in aircraft simulation.

He is now a team member at Walking With The Wounded and is part of the High Intensity Service in the East of England, supporting veterans with complex mental health needs.

Mr Rose said: “As a disabled veteran, I have first-hand experience of how life can suddenly change and present what looks like unsurmountable challenges."

During his December challenge, he took part in swimming, cycling, rowing, walking, and circuit training.

David Rose leading military expedition in USA 2014

David Rose leading military expedition in USA 2014. - Credit: Help for Heroes

A spokesperson at Walking With The Wounded said this was made more difficult because of his paralysed right arm and that the exercises were adapted for his injuries.

He started on December 10 but finished on Friday, December 31 with a rowing session after recovering from the flu.

After completing it, he said: "I decided to turn my participation into a challenge that would really push me".

"The donations help us to fund country-wide programmes to ensure veterans and their families don't face problems alone.

"Being injured had a massive impact on my mental health, but I got support, and through sport had lots of positive role models around me to encourage me to push on with life.

"The lockdown was tough but I was fortunate to be in a decent job that I could do from home.

"Having been through a tough time with the paralysis of my right arm, lockdown made me prioritise my physical and mental health, getting out in my local area and taking the opportunity to catch up with friends and family through technology."

He added it was "very rewarding" to see how his support can help someone to overcome challenges and "take control of their lives".

Walking Home for Christmas is an annual fundraising campaign for Walking With The Wounded.

This year's campaign focused on raising money to "ensure that no-one is left behind from the lockdowns" and supporting veterans and their families who have been affected by the "mental health epidemic" during the pandemic.

The charity said research it commissioned found that four in five people surveyed are still suffering an impact on their mental health following the lockdowns.

Mr Rose was part of a small team from the NHS Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust who collectively raised £2,021 for the cause. Other members walked for their challenge.

In total, more than £135, 500 has been raised by the 1,274 people who took part in the campaign, which will help fund 1,653 mental health sessions.

To donate to Mr Rose's cause visit walkinghomeforchristmas.com/users/david-rose