A war hero who almost died in an IED Afghanistan explosion says he feels like losing both his legs gave him ‘spider senses’.

Ex-solider David Birrell, 34, struggled to come to terms with the tragedy which happened as he served as a corporal in Scotland’s Black Watch in 2010.

But the dad-of-four believes ‘life is living not existing’, and has gone on to drive racing cars, become an ambassador for amputees and have a career as one of the first amputee builders in the UK.

He also married Mary Parkinson, 39, the nurse who helped save his life, with the pair welcoming their son Ethan in 2019.

Speaking about his incredible journey, David revealed he feels more at one with his body now than before he lost his legs.



He said: ‘People are shocked when I turn up and they see I have no legs, some people try to discriminate but my attitude is that there’s nothing that someone with two legs can do that I can’t.

‘I can put in just as much graft if not more than someone able-bodied, if not even more. I’ll keep going even when everyone has dropped and they’re knackered.

‘It doesn’t limit me in any way. In fact, I’d say I’m less prone to accidents because if I break my leg on a building site I’ve got a spare pair in the van.

‘I feel like losing my legs gave me spider senses, I’m even more aware of my surroundings and careful on my feet than I was when I actually had my legs.

‘It does surprise my customers when they see me jumping up and down or lifting three plaster boards at the same time unassisted or scrambling across scaffolding.’

The veteran, who has three children from a previous marriage, Anthony, 15, Lennon, 13, and Talula, 9, now aims to create a building company that will provide for his family.

He said: ‘After I lost my legs it was a massive uphill battle with my mental health and I struggled a lot to come to terms with it.

‘I did building jobs when I was a kid before I joined the military but I never thought I would get back into contractor work or be back on a building site as a double amputee.



‘Being a contractor is an active job like being in the army, you have to have a sharp mind for both jobs and I wanted to start working towards a legacy that I can leave behind for my kids.

‘Everyone on the team is ex service of some kind, whether it’s military service or public service, we have ex nurses, doctors, firefighters and policemen as well as former soldiers.

‘That was really important for me to show that support and help anyone else I can who might be struggling with life after leaving public service.

‘My motto is life is for living not existing, so I try to throw myself into anything and everything I can.’

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