Lance Corporal David Colman

David’s story is amazing. The process that he has been through is genuinely transformational, we are hugely proud of him.

I was deployed with the Royal Logistic Corps to Afghanistan in 2007. In August, whilst serving at a Forward Operating Base in the Sangin Valley, Helmand Province, I became ill with severe diarrhoea. This never got better and I steadily declined, leading to a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis in August 2008. Between the start of the condition in 2007 and the present time, I have been extremely ill. For much of 2009 I was so ill, I was barely able to leave the house and suffered from constant exhaustion. In May 2010, recognising that all of the medical options had proved unsuccessful I underwent an operation to remove my large bowel. This was the first of 4 operations to complete the process and ultimately return me to where I am now. 

Along the way, I have had numerous complications. After the first operation, I had to be blue-lighted to a specialist London hospital with a suspected blood clot on the spine, because I had couldn’t move my legs properly. I have also had complications with obstructions in the bowel, which twice lead to emergency admissions to the John Radcliffe in Oxford, as well as after my fourth operation when I was in hospital.

The repeated surgery and extreme fatigue has taken me from a super-fit soldier to someone who routinely struggled to get up in the morning and coming to terms with this change has been a huge challenge. My life is completely different now and heavily dominated by the impact and effects of my illness. I feel like a 29 year old trapped in an 80 year old’s body.

By 2012, it had been agreed that I could no longer have a role in the army and I was scheduled to be medically discharged. I had begun to think that I would never return to any kind of long term job which I could enjoy. I was just looking for anything that would get me out of the house and allow me to support my family.

I was in a really bad way emotionally, feeling hugely let down by the system and totally on the scrap heap. All my previous skills and qualifications were for jobs that I could simply no longer do. That’s when my Employment Consultant put me in touch with Mission Motorsport. They got me involved in all kinds of activities, which allowed me to test my boundaries in a controlled environment and confirm what I can and can’t cope with any more. Through this, I was offered a work placement with Caterham F1, which ultimately lead to permanent employment. Mission Motorsport haven’t just found me a job, but rebuilt my self-confidence through the whole process. 

David on placement at Caterham Formula One

David on placement at Caterham Formula One

Although desperate to get back into work, it has been an uphill struggle and will continue to be challenging. The range of jobs that I can do is so limited, but the people at Caterham F1 have been fantastic, giving me exceptional training in a completely new field and the opportunity to prove that I still worth investing in. 

Without Mission Motorsport and Caterham F1, I believe I would still be stuck at home, feeling hopeless and struggling to find employment. Whilst nothing can change what I have been through and I will never lead a ‘normal’ life, this opportunity is the first time in six and half years, I can truly say that I believe my future is positive. – David Colman