A BORDERS based former soldier who felt depressed and suicidal after being crippled by an IED explosion in Basra has turned his life around and is now on the path towards hopefully becoming a champion para-athlete.

Neil Dewar, 56 was a Captain in the Royal Scots Infantry Regiment when he sustained multiple injuries from an IED explosion in 2006.

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He was left with physical disabilities including damage to neck, spine, leg, arm and hand. He also suffers with chronic pain and brain neurological issues, can’t walk without a knee brace and use of a walking stick.

Peeblesshire News: Neil Dewar

He was in an out of hospital for five years having reconstructive surgery and exploratory procedures to diagnose rare lung diseases contracted whilst serving in Iraq.

Unable to live independently, Neil moved back in with his parents and struggled with PTSD.

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However after signing up for the Nuffield Joint Pain Programme plus some encouragement from Prince Harry, Neil now lives independently in Eildon and trains four days a week at a gym in Edinburgh having competed in the Laser Run and Pentathlon World Championships for Para GB Athletics in August 2023.

Peeblesshire News: Neil Dewar

He is classed as a wheelchair athlete and will be taking part in the 2024 Invictus Games team training program in a bid to be selected for the UK Invictus Games Canada February 2025 team.

From 2024 he will also be in the GB Para athletics Biathle team and GB Para Triathlon Team.

He said: “I was in a bad way. It was only being with my parents that stopped me from taking my own life.

“I was fractions away from walking in front of a bus and spent a long time planning how to take my own life.

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“At Nuffield my trainer Kirsteen was so enthusiastic, joyful and encouraging. and the course motivated me to get into exercise again properly.

“It made me wonder if I could do the Invictus Games. I had met Prince Harry a few times at the Remembrance events in London. He was always very encouraging and told me that even if I didn’t compete, I should get involved in the volunteering.

“I applied and got in the RBL Invictus team training program. It was 2022 and I haven’t looked back since. It was so good to be with military people again, where there is a fountain of knowledge and psychological support we share with each other.

I learned to play wheelchair basketball, wheelchair murder ball rugby, wheelchair racing, seated discus throwing, sitting volleyball and seated shot putt throwing. It made me think I was relevant once again and still worth something.

“I went from the Invictus team training to compete for Invictus Team U.K. in the US Wounded Warrior Games in 2023 and won two gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

“ I’m now a member of the Edinburgh Giants Wheelchair Rugby League club and team and I am hoping to be picked by the Scottish National WCRL team to play in 2024.

“I was in a very, very dark place. I am leading such a wonderful life now because I’m an international disabled wheelchair athlete for Invictus and the Para athletic GB team.

One door in my life has closed but I have found that there are a thousand more just waiting to be opened.”