Kevin Drake | Para Alpine

Kevin Drake – Para Alpine

Royal Engineer veteran, Kevin Drake, left the army in 2008 having served twelve years. Nine months later, he re-joined, having missed the camaraderie and sense of purpose the Forces gave. By December 2012, Kevin was part way through his second tour of Afghanistan when he was caught up in an explosion. Miraculously, he walked away from it unharmed. A month later when his vehicle came into contact with an IED he was less fortunate. The shock waves were so severe, they shattered his leg bones below both knees.

Recovery was slow and painful. Kevin lived his life split between Headley Court and home for three long years in an attempt to save his legs. By 2016, although his right leg had sufficiently recovered, the constant pain in his left had become unbearable. Kevin made the difficult decision to undergo an elective amputation. Within five weeks of the operation, he had fully recovered and was able to play with his children again, pain free.

Bridging the gap….

This was a time to take stock and find a new goal. Competitive sport seemed like the perfect solution. In 2017, Kevin attended the Invictus Games Trials, successfully competing in wheelchair tennis and basketball before going on to represent his country.

After the Games ended, Kevin needed to find a new focus, so he looked to the slopes. He first tried skiing with his prosthetic leg in February 2018 and soon set his sights on becoming part of the AFPST Performance Team.

What’s different about skiing with a prosthetic?

“Skiing with a prosthetic leg isn’t straight forward, but thanks to some great coaching my alpine technique has been transformed. We had to strip everything back and start from scratch.

Ordinarily, when skiing, you would initiate movement from your toes before working up your legs. With a prosthetic, I have to start with my knee instead. As a result, there’s less feedback and I can’t apply as much pressure to my prosthetic as I can to my other leg. Interestingly, after a long, hard day on the slopes, it’s my damaged right leg that can leave me in agony”. 

What has the charity done for you?

“AFPST has enabled me to ski full-time at a competitive level. The coaches are second to none – I mean, absolutely brilliant. I feel immensely privileged to put the kit on and feel part of a team again.

The army was more than just a job. Being part of such a tight knit group of people who you’d trust your life with – that’s something special. Overnight, it was all taken away. I had to find something to fill the huge void it left behind. That’s what this charity has done for me and I’m more grateful than I can say”.

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