Team BRIT drivers celebrate 'alive day' at Brands Hatch race

Team BRIT competed in the third race of the season in the Fun Cup championship at Brands Hatch this weekend and two of the drivers marked an extremely special date.

The weekend marked the anniversary of the day two of the drivers suffered extreme injuries whilst serving in Afghanistan and is now coined their ‘alive day’. The drivers celebrated the date at the race were joined by a former comrade, who one of the drivers credits with saving his life.

In 2010, Tony Williams from St Helens was serving in Afghanistan as a Corporal in the Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps, aged 26. Tony survived two grenade blasts before being shot six times, three weeks later, on the 4th June 2010, whilst giving life-saving treatment to an injured soldier that had been shot. During the attack, he was shot multiple times and suffered injuries including a broken hip, torn bowels and a broken spine, paralysing him from the waist down. He also sustained a mild traumatic brain injury by being hit in a grenade attack, with shrapnel embedded into his forehead.

He was told he was unlikely to walk again and had less than 5% chance of fathering children, was unlikely to regain full bladder function and had suffered severe nerve damage to his lower legs. Tony can now walk, although he has paralysis in his left leg and a ‘dropped’ foot, so uses a leg brace. He is also the proud father to two children.

Seven years on, Tony is proud to celebrate his ‘alive day’  on 4th June and was joined at Brands Hatch by Bill Kelly, a private from his unit at the time, who he credits with saving his life during the attack.  Bill pulled Tony to safety after he had been shot and was able to get him to essential medical help.

Andy Searle from Torquay was just 19 when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan.  On 3rd June 2011, Andy was serving with 1 Rifles and his unit had been tasked with providing outer protection during the search of a village when he was hit by the explosion. As a result of the blast, Andy lost both legs, part of his right hip and the index and middle finger on his right hand. Andy spent five years in Headley Court Military Rehabilitation Centre before returning to his home in Torquay and has undergone more than 50 surgical operations.

Six years on, Andy has marked this key date as a competitive racing driver with Team BRIT.

Tony says, “I have struggled with this date for years and haven’t always known how to feel about it.  For the last two years, since being part of Team BRIT, I am so much more focused and feel I should mark the date, celebrating and being thankful for my life and what I have achieved.

“I never would have thought that I would be a competitive racing driver after the prognosis I was given back then.  I’m proud to be beating the odds every day and being able to mark the date doing what I love, racing at one of the UK’s top motor sports tracks, joined by one of the men who saved me, is just incredible.”