A FORMER soldier has been detailing his road to recovery ahead of an opportunity to race in Europe with Lotus.

Danny Holland, 28, from Cefn, was serving with the Welsh Guards in Afghanistan in 2012 when an improvised explosive device detonated, resulting in him suffering a severe brain injury, multiple shrapnel wounds in his arm and buttocks, as well as leaving him with only 50 per cent hearing in one of his ears.

Following the incident Mr Holland was sent back to the UK to receive treatment, but physical affects were not the only ones he was left with, but serious mental affects as well.

He has since been living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

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Mr Holland said: “When I came back from Afghanistan, I didn’t really think anything was wrong, it was my family who had started to notice a difference in how I was behaving.

“I went into a pretty dark and lonely time, I was pushing my loved ones away and I didn’t even know it.

“I’ve been to rehab since to try and help me recover, but unfortunately it’s still something I’m living with to this day.

“It come’s and go’s really, but one of the effects is short-term memory loss, I can really struggle to remember things sometimes. I also get flashbacks throughout the day sometimes, reliving the moment and what happened, and I sometimes see it in nightmares too.

“It was and still is really hard to live with, but then I started racing.”

Mr Holland said he has always had a passion for racing, and upon hearing about KartForce, a club for Serving and ex-Serving injured soldiers that race around the UK as well as abroad, he decided to join and give it a try, and he has never looked back.

“I started racing to try and take my mind off of my situation, and I can honestly say that racing has helped me so much more than any rehab ever could.

“I started off with go-karts, I was racing with KartForce for a while, and I also did the Circuit Spa as well which took me out to Belgium.

“Once I started getting better and better, and I realised I was actually quite good at this, I moved on to cars, and now I’m racing with Mission Motorsport, the The Forces’ motorsport charity, who have provided me with another great opportunity to race in Europe for Lotus and I’m very excited for it.”

Mr Holland will be competing in The Lotus Cup in England, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands between April and September.

This is just the next step for Mr Holland, who has said that racing is what he would like to do for a long time now, while also explaining just how far it has allowed him to come in his recovery.

“When I’m racing, surrounded by other able-bodied people all having fun, doing something they love and competing, it makes me feel normal again.

“Of course my family have helped me out massively along the way, and I can’t thank them enough for that, but I truly believe that without racing then I wouldn’t have come this far, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

“This is it for me now I think, I want to progress further and further in racing as long as I can.”

As well as racing, Mr Holland is also a current player for Cefn Albion Football Club, who recently posted a statement on their Facebook page saying: “Everyone at Cefn Albion Football Club would like to say a huge well done and congratulations to our very own Danny Holland who has been given an amazing opportunity to race in Europe with Lotus Elise, in one of their cars.

“It’s an unbelievable achievement given the path Danny has been down over the last several years.

“Danny is a Cefn lad brought up in the heart of the village and regardless whether he has\is or will be a Cefn Albion player, we as a football club have\do\will always support him as he continues with his recovery.

“Everyone at the football club is proud of his achievements and we wish him all the very best with his racing, football and life for the future.”

Mr Holland issued a message to anyone who may be struggling as he is, or going through a dark time in their lives.

“The main thing I would say is talk to people.

“For a while I didn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t want to share what I was thinking or feeling with anyone and I kept it all bottled up.

“That didn’t help anyone, it didn’t help me and it didn’t help my family. If anything it was only doing more damage to both.

“Don’t be afraid to open up to people because they can help you.”