Norfolk ex-soldier to compete in Australia’s Invictus Games

Daniel Majid who is training for the Invictus Games (photo: Antony Kelly)

Daniel Majid who is training for the Invictus Games (photo: Antony Kelly) - Credit: Archant

A bomb blast changed Dan Majid’s life for ever. Now the Norfolk PE teacher is ready to represent his country again

Jess French with Dan Majid and their baby daughter (photo: Antony Kelly)

Jess French with Dan Majid and their baby daughter (photo: Antony Kelly) - Credit: Archant

Dan Majid will begin the month teaching PE in Stalham. He will end it competing for his country in Australia in the Invictus Games.

Eight years ago Dan was a soldier on patrol in Afghanistan. A bomb exploded, shattering his arm and changing his life for ever. His new life is on the Norfolk coast, with partner Jess French (the CBeebies presenter, vet and author) and their 10-month-old daughter.

Dan had been working as a PE teacher, and volunteering with the Army Reserve as a physical training instructor when he volunteered for full-time service.

After extra training he was sent to Afghanistan on a six-month tour with the second parachute regiment. Just eight weeks later he was at the front of a foot patrol when a bomb exploded.

As the huge cloud of dust subsided Dan feared his arm had been completely severed. Making himself a tourniquet to stem the bleeding, he radioed for help. He was flown to the field hospital at Camp Bastion, where doctors warned they might have to amputate.

Dan, now 33, was medically discharged from the Army last year. His arm was saved, but is shortened, with metal plates supporting the shattered bones.

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Invictus contestants have all been in the armed forces and battled injury or illness. They are picked for their sporting prowess, commitment to training and how taking part will help their recovery.

Dan, who lives near Winterton-on-Sea, is one of 72 people, including three from Norfolk, chosen to represent the UK. Dan will be competing in athletics, rowing and sailing. Before he was injured, school sports events were the closest he had ever been to an athletics meet and a gym rowing machine the closest he had come to rowing. “I’ve just bought my first pair of track spikes and long jumped for the first time since I was at school!” he said.

“I’ve been training where and when I can. The nearest gym is 40 minutes away so I’m doubling things up, doing squats and lunges holding the baby, running with our off-road pram and sand dune sprints with the dog. We only live a short walk away from the beach and the Broads so that’s really handy.”

He said he coped with his injury by setting physical challenges for himself and is now using his Invictus training to enhance his PE lessons. “Our coaches are national and international level trainers. So the sessions they put on for us are inspiring and challenging but specific with great advice on techniques. I just repeat what they say and change the sessions slightly so they are applicable to the level I teach at,” said Dan.

Jess, who met Dan when she was in her final year at university, will be travelling out to Australia with Dan and their daughter. “I need to continue on my road to recovery now more than ever since I have just started a family,” said Dan.

“I would also like to set myself a new physical challenge as I feel this is the best way for me to manage my moods and motivation. I hope it will provide inspiration for my little girl as well as the students I teach. If I can look forward to events, challenges and experiences and feel like I’m still growing then I will be able to continue on my road to recovery and be the best dad I can be.”

Norfolk’s other Invictus stars

Naomi Adie, of Holme Hale, near Swaffham, will be competing in athletics. She served in the RAF and said leaving the job she loved and coping with her injuries had been difficult. “It has taken a lot of grit and determination to get where I am today,” said 38-year-old Naomi. “I have set myself a goal and thrown myself in; not just for me but for my daughter, so she can see mummy achieve something despite my physical limitations. I want her to see the person, not the disability or injury and this journey is helping with that.”

Andrew Taylor of Norwich will be competing in athletics, sailing and powerlifting. He was in the Army when he was injured and said finding activities and sports that he could participate in had been challenging but training for the games had helped his mental and physical health, with the chance to represent his country again “the icing on the cake.”