Wales Online –
They were veterans of Afghanistan who turned to scuba diving to help them recover from their battlefield injuries.
Now two soldiers have turned what had been intended as recuperation into an unlikely new career underwater.
Brad Hughes, from Llandudno, was badly wounded in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2008.
He was returning from a patrol in a fortified vehicle known as a Viking when it drove over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
The huge blast ripped through the vehicle, severely injuring the 28-year-old. Miraculously he survived, but suffered six fractures and a dislocation to his right foot and more than three years later is still receiving treatment.
As a result, he enlisted for a pioneering rehabilitation scheme run by the Army Sub Aqua Diving Association (ASADA), which trains the military’s divers.
And now Brad is the recipient of a British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) Open Water Instructor’s qualification, making him one of only two who have reached the unlikely achievement through the programme.
The other is Brad’s close friend and dive buddy, Peter Wesley, who sustained complicated fractures to both of his legs during military training.
Both men have now been discharged from the Army on medical grounds.
Their achievements have been celebrated back at the BSAC headquarters where the physical and mental healing benefits of diving have been known about for a very long time.
Mary Tetley, the club’s chief executive, said: “Gaining your BSAC Open Water instructor qualification is an achievement in itself but to do so when battling a crippling injury which has had such a profound effect on your life is remarkable.