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David Walsh

David Walsh

The Impact, Influence and Implications of Drink Driving

An optimistic and realistic personality, who never fails to see the bright side of life; David Walsh suffers from severe physical injuries, namely the partial loss of use of his right arm and a right leg amputation, meaning that he walks with a prosthetic leg, following a near fatal car crash in 2001 when he was aged just 22 and in his final year as an undergraduate student. The life he had mapped out for himself, including playing sports and teaching English abroad changed in the flick of a switch.

Events that led to that fateful day and events thereafter are the key themes of David’s recent speeches delivered to a number of schools and colleges during the past year. Feedback in the form of school newsletter write-ups and social media alerts, suggest that the speeches were delivered well, with appropriate content and David was clear, informative, natural and able to think on his feet for follow-up questions. David’s inspirational and heart rending story is accounted chronologically with the events and decisions to drink the night before working as a hire car driver on the following morning. It accounts the actual incident, subsequent hospital treatments and duration and resultant injuries of a right arm brachial plexus and 7 years after the accident, with numerous leg infections due to the severity of the burns, a right leg amputation. David’s talks are interactive too; David ensures the audience are and remain captive by using photos of the accident which inevitably incites an element of fear in the listener but he also asks questions of the audience such as: number of pills taken to date and number of visits to the hospital to date, to name a few.

As a presenter David is clear, confident, relaxed, entertaining and engaging. His energy comes across as the content of the speech is his own life, which enables him to deliver the talks with sincerity, conviction and enthusiasm. He uses facts, figures, graphics, interaction and discusses the physical and emotional results of his injuries. His objective is for the audience to use the content as both a deterrent and as a motivational story to move on and live their lives.

In terms of his personal life, David’s story is truly incredible; whilst dealing with the sheer volume of operations, daily pills and regular hospital and therapy visits, David has also managed to hold down a 11 year career with media giant the Daily Mail Group, ensuring that all their print operations have sufficient and correct paper, balancing the needs of the editorial team with those of the production side. His refreshing and encouraging attitude to life has led him to become an avid cyclist, recently doing the London to Paris bike ride. David covers this and other examples of how important it is to continue living despite not conforming to the conventional norms. Cycling remains a key area to his recovery and self development and further exhibiting the spirit of nothing can stop him, David’s future cycling plans include Lands End to John O'Groats next year (1000 miles in 9 days) and cycling across the USA. His key motto in life is “you are not defined by what you go through, you are defined by how you respond”.

A key theme in David’s moving story is his resilience; David explains how he developed the capacity to recover each and every setback in his health and the importance of this trait.

Here is a summary of David’s story. You can also watch David here.

Testimonials from Teachers

"The session with David was really positive - the sixth form team reported that his frankness and honesty was really appreciated and had a real impact on the students. They found his talk really shocking and it really resonated with them. We will definitely be in touch to work with David again."

– Clare Gardiner,​ WIT Coordinator, Cokethorpe School

"...he was with us he was likeable, open and honest and no question was out of bounds or too difficult. As a team we unfortunately work with victims of traffic accidents and their families all the time but sitting back I was pleasantly surprised to see the effect he had on our Cycle Training Officers who were captivated by him and were pumping him with question after question they were so engaged, they all looked disappointed when it was time for him to go. The students were riveted by him and my team and the teachers and partners were charmed by him, he was so brave and so engaging. After his presentation a number of students approached him to shake his hand and personally thank him which was fantastic."

– Elaine Beadle, Manager, Road Safety Unit, Bromley Council

"David opened with a moving account of how he went to the pub approaching his graduation. The following morning he went to work at 8am, on the way the car spun into oncoming traffic at 50mph. The impact caused the car to burst into flames, and passing motorists pulled him out of the burning car. David spent 2 weeks in intensive care due to severe burns and a further three months in the burns unit. David lost a leg, and partial use of one arm. He had had over 30 operations, mainly skin grafts, since 2001 and continues to have regular appointments for continued treatment. He spoke candidly about the impact on his family, and how the injuries have impacted on his professional and personal life."

– Roger Kendrick, Learning Beyond the Classroom Co-ordinator, Brookes 6th Form College, Hackney

“Many students thought it was really good. Lots of students said that it has prepared them well for when they start driving and also said it was a good reminder of the damage it can do”.

– Sally Robinson, 6th Form Administrator, JCoSS, New Barnet

"All of the students highly engaged with David’s moving story and displayed high levels of maturity, empathy and compassion. David’s talk delivered a number of important messages to the students; the risks and numerous consequences of mixing alcohol and driving, the importance of making the right decisions and moving on and living life in the face of adversity. I look forward to you coming back next year for the next set of students."

– Laura Brain, Head of RE & Sociology, Haileybury Turnford​

Speaker File




  • Lifestyle
  • Well-being
  • Disability
  • Drugs/Alcohol

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