David Smith, King’s Own Scottish Borderers
In 1985 at just 25 years old, David Smith was serving with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers in Northern Ireland when he and a friend were blown up by a roadside bomb. His friend was closer to the blast and was killed, while David lost the use of his legs.
David has been supported by Erskine for over 18 years now, having been initially admitted for six months when he was first injured. I meet David at reception and immediately David’s warm personality comes across. It’s as though I’ve known him for years.
Strong bonds at Erskine
We only get a few feet before David meets a friendly face… one of the physiotherapy staff stop to say hello. “You’re looking well David. Are you coming down to physio today?” It’s wonderful to see such a strong bond between David and the members of staff, and it’s clear David feels at home here.
After joining the Army in 1976, David enjoyed the opportunity to travel. He served across the world in different countries. He remembers having to ‘dig-in’ when he was stationed in Germany due to Cold War activity. Surprisingly he describes sharing a trench in a state of high alert with six guys for six weeks as; “Tough and dirty but enjoyable!”
“Daddy, when are you going to walk again?”
David tells me about the day his injury occurred: “It was my fifth tour in Northern Ireland. We had gone to a ‘scene’ at a local police station. Two of the police officers had been shot dead. We were running back to the helicopter. Suddenly I was thrown in the air. It all happened so quickly. I saw my colleague crumple in the dust. He was killed outright from the blast. I had serious injuries and was airlifted to hospital. I remember saying to the paramedics, I canny feel my legs.”
Years of hospitals and treatment followed. David explains; “I was diagnosed with PTSD, a long time after I was discharged. I used to awaken from nightmares in a cold sweat and shouting. It would break my heart when my daughters would say, “Daddy, when are you going to walk again?”
Support from Erskine
He says; “Erskine has given me a new lease of life. Physiotherapy helps me to work on my upper body which is important, being in a wheelchair. It’s important I stay mobile and I still drive, so I need to keep up my fitness so I can still get in and out of my car. I’m waiting for an Erskine cottage to become available and cannot wait to move in.”
My name is Alan and I am the Supporter Development Officer at Erskine. It has been a privilege to meet David and listen to his stories. I am so grateful to be able to share his story with you because it shows the massive sacrifice our Armed Forces personnel make and how important it is to care for them.