Veteran Ken battles back from injuries for Invictus trials

Ken De Soyza.
Ken De Soyza.

A Kirkcaldy man is one of three Fifers who is taking part in trials for the UK Invictus Games team.

Ken De Soyza, along with Stuart Padley from Glenrothes and Ben Groves from Dunfermline are supported by forces charity Help for Heroes.

The Invictus UK Trials Sheffield 2019 sees up to 350 wounded, injured and sick Veterans and Service Personnel take part in up to nine adaptive sports in a showcase of the power of sport on recovery this week.

Ken was hit by a car in August 2016 while cycle training for trials for the 2017 Invictus Games. He suffered serious injuries, including loss of power in his left arm and a brachial plexus injury, and his upper limb paralysis affected his ability to handle a bicycle safely.

Ken, who served 22 years in the RAF, said: “I was fortunate to attend the Warrior Games in 2016 which gave me the chance to see what I could achieve following my medical discharge in 2002. At the time I was the fittest I had been since my first back spasm in 1995 in service.

“The severe injuries I sustained in my accident have set me back dramatically, including loss of use of my left arm and subsequently, loss of my job which I had retrained for. I am fighting to recover from this situation with significant adaptations to my life.”

Glenrothes man Stuart Padley is recovering from a stroke in 2018, aged just 30. An aircraft handler in the Royal Navy, he said: “The Trials will enable me to put to the test all of the exercises I have learnt during my recovery and demonstrate to my family and those that helped me that every little has helped and what I can achieve.”

Ben Groves, who will take part in the cycling trials, was medically discharged recently after 17 years in the forces, serving in Iraq and Germany as a military policeman and, after retraining as a bomb disposal operator, in Afghanistan, Falklands and Kenya.

The 39-year-old father of four suffered serious injuries when he was involved in numerous explosions as part of a IED Disposal team in Helmand, Afghanistan in March 2010. Ben’s injuries include a brain injury, complex PTSD, anxiety and depression, dissociation disorder, and spinal and leg injuries which affects his mobility.

Martin Colclough, Head of Sports Recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “The Invictus UK Trials will be a brilliant demonstration of the power of sport and we are here to help every individual exceed their personal recovery goals – be it to take part, set a personal best or take home a medal. We’re proud to continue our legacy of delivering outstanding sports recovery to wounded veterans, through Invictus UK.

“We’d invite anyone who wants to try something new as part of their recovery to get in touch with Help for Heroes. It’s not just about competing in sports at an elite level. Through our local Recovery Centres, we can offer grass roots activities, such as walking football, and access to nutrition, sleep hygiene and physical activity advice.”

The Invictus UK Trials Sheffield 2019 runs from today until Friday, July 26, with 350 competitors, supported by their friends, family and local community, taking part in up to nine sports – Archery, Athletics, Cycling, Indoor Rowing, Powerlifting, Sitting Volleyball, Swimming, Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby. The Invictus UK partnership comprises Help for Heroes, the Ministry of Defence and the British Legion.

All Invictus UK Trials competitors can put themselves forward to become part of Team UK for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020. Selection in the UK is based on potential recovery benefit, attitude and commitment, as well as performance. Help for Heroes will work with all competitors, regardless of selection, to ensure their recovery journeys continue beyond the Invictus UK Trials.