Darren Swift



Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment

Further personal information

Daughter Izzy
Actor, Athlete, Public Speaker, Veteran

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He began snowboarding in the 1990s.
Why this sport?
"I remember having lunch in an Italian ski resort once, looking up the piste, and seeing these three young lads come speeding down on snowboards, slide up beside to me, take their boards off and go inside for a beer, and I thought I want to be able to do that. Back home I got chatting to a mate of mine who is a product designer. We drew a rudimentary sketch of specialist snowboard bindings on the back of a beer mat, and a couple of days later we worked up a basic prototype."
Club / Team
Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team [AFPST]: England

General interest

Swifty (telegraph.co.uk, 13 Jan 2010; forces.net, 01 May 2018)
Climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, skiing, listening to music. (LinkedIn profile, 06 Apr 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"With a little ingenuity and bottle you can do it." (telegraph.co.uk, 13 Jan 2010)
Other sports
He won a gold medal at the 2003 British Skydiving Championships. (telegraph.co.uk, 13 Jan 2010)
He has had a double above-the-knee amputation, following injuries sustained in May 1991 while he was serving with the British Army in Belfast, Northern Ireland. "I was working with the Army Dog Unit and was feeding my dog when two members of the IRA [Irish Republican Army] threw a coffee jar bomb at me. It instantly killed my colleague. I was blown to the floor. There was smoke and cordite, and I felt shocked, like I'd been cuffed around the head, but weirdly I wasn't in any pain. I looked down at myself. My left leg had gone completely. It was found 20 metres away, over a wall, still smoking in my boot. My right leg was hanging off, as were several of my fingers. I remember being fascinated that they weren't spouting blood." (gofundme.com, Sep 2016; blesma.org, 2016)
Other information
In May 2003 he was part of a combined Royal Marine and Royal Navy climbing expedition to the summit of Mount Everest. Just days away from their attempt at climbing the summit, Peter Madew, a climber from another expedition, suffered a broken leg. Swift volunteered to bring him down to Advanced Base Camp on his own, a 1,200 metre descent that took seven hours. For his rescue, he received the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal in August 2003, and the Stanhope Gold Medal in December 2003, given for the most outstanding act of bravery of the year. "I roped myself to him and we set off down the mountain. Because of the wind, our fixed ropes had been blown away and at times there were 2000-metre drops on either side. It was very, very scary." (royalhumanesociety.org.uk, Jan 2004)

He has been a television and movie actor. "I had relatives who worked at Pinewood Studios and one of them suggested I try doing extras work, but I thought, 'What are they going to want with a bloke with no legs?'. Still, I made a few calls, registered with a couple of extras agencies and the next thing I knew I was on some film with Clive Owen playing a bloke with one leg. From there I did various films and television shows, lots of war films, science fiction, horror stuff, that sort of thing. Anything with blood and guts. I've [also] done casualty simulations for the military and emergency services. You could call it 'extreme medical role play' where we simulate the initial point of incident through to hospitalisation. It requires a certain amount of acting, but essentially involves what I'm good at, being blown up." (accessmagazine.co.uk, 23 Oct 2014)