David Melrose, a former grave digger, was serving as a retained firefighter when he was hit by a falling steel beam which broke his back. Coming to terms with life in a wheelchair, taking part in sport seemed like a distant memory, but then David found curling and his life changed again.
Before his accident, David describes his route into sport as fairly typical, playing football in the local community, taking it to a semi-professional level then taking up golf later on. He was a fit guy with a great family life, but post-accident everything changed and sport has helped him come to terms with his new life.
“Once I got out of the spinal unit, I was just kind of living. I wasn’t really thinking too far ahead, what I was going to be doing in a few months or a few years’ time. Eventually after about two or three years, I tried some different sports and through a disability show, I found curling.
“It was the first sport I tried where I actually got that urge and feeling back, not wanting to lose, wanting to win. It was something I didn’t really expect to get back after my accident, but curling’s brought that part to my life again.
"I know it’s a bit of a cliché but it’s like you're reborn. You suddenly find another life but within a wheelchair. It was time to move on.”
David was selected on to the Great Britain curling performance programme based at the National Curling Academy in Stirling and a whole new world opened up for him.
“I had put a lot of weight on, I wasn’t that fit and picking up curling gave me the drive to get fitter. Getting onto the curling programme has absolutely transformed my life, it’s full. It got me back onto a decent diet, losing weight, keeping me fit, and it’s given me purpose to keep driving regardless of where we finish up.
"It’s given me the lessons now to go forward in life so hopefully in years to come, it should still help my lifestyle over and above sport. I’ve been lucky in a lot of ways, other wheelchair users probably don’t get the chance to get the assistance that the programme gives you."
In good company
David was in the spinal unit at the Southern General in Glasgow alongside Paralympians Sammi Kinghorn and Jo Butterfield.
“We used to push each other when we were in the gym but they got on to a performance programme a lot quicker than I did. But I’m there now and it's given me a real purpose.”
David now receives support from the experts at the sportscotland institute of sport but still struggles to think of himself as an athlete.
“When you come into the programme they are very welcoming and everything’s there for you, but I felt a wee bit guilty about using the system. I finally realised that I am an athlete, because they are always calling you athletes, and I now realise to be an athlete you need the full support and I’ve got to access that. They really are brilliant in every aspect that an athlete needs.”
World Championship selection
This week, David has earned his first cap for Scotland, competing at the World Curling Championships in Stirling.
“It’s a big achievement. It surpasses any sporting achievement since before my accident but for after my accident, it’s tremendous, absolutely tremendous. I’m so excited about going forward with curling."
New gold dream
For David, the dream is to win a gold medal at the Paralympics and have his own gold post box.
“That’s something that everyone can look at and say: ‘that’s that guy that won gold in curling’. That’s the kind of pie in the sky ambition.”
Find out more
- David is competing as part of Team Scotland at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Stirling
- Read more of David's story in The Herald
- Interested in trying curling? Visit Scottish Curling for more information
- Keep up to date with the curlers on the British Curling programme, supported by the sportscotland institute of sport
- Want to get involved in disability sport? Scottish Disability Sport would love to hear from you