Ex-soldier who gained 16 qualifications for dream housebuilding job is award finalist
- 22 Nov 21
A former soldier at a national housebuilder, who was previously shot in the face on active duty and went on to gain 16 qualifications in a few months to get his dream job, is in the running for a major award for ex-military personnel. David Duncan, group safety, health & environmental advisor at Vistry Group, is a finalist for Inspiration of the Year in the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards, which recognises the value veterans add to businesses as well as the employers that support them. The 32-year-old former reconnaissance soldier and assault pioneer spent furlough last year completing the health and safety qualifications as he thought his military skills would be the perfect match for Vistry. The father-of-two, from Dukinfield in Greater Manchester, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard I was a finalist in the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards, I had to check with my Vistry colleagues that it was real. I work hard in everything I do, I had an incredible time serving in the military, despite my injuries, and learnt a lot about myself and skills that I knew I could transfer successfully into housebuilding and Vistry. “I was injured in Afghanistan while carrying out my job and I’ve always wanted to make sure no one else hurts themselves while at work – that’s what drew me to health and safety and construction and Vistry has been the perfect fit. I put the work in to gain the qualifications I needed as I felt I could do it and make a difference to future housebuilding colleagues, but I had no idea I would be shortlisted for such a major award, it feels incredible.” David, who served with the 19 Light Brigade Reconnaissance Force in Operation Herrick 10, suffered a gunshot wound to the chin and shrapnel to his torso and limbs. He re-joined his parent unit, 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, on his return to the UK and was medically discharged in 2012. Thanks to industry programme BuildForce – which Vistry also supports – he was later able to put his military skills to use in housebuilding. Former Royal Engineer Roger Morton, group change director at Vistry, said: “David is without doubt an inspiration and we’re very lucky to have him at Vistry doing such a great job within our group safety, health and environmental team. We’re very proud that he’s in the running for such a prestigious award and of his commitment and work with BuildForce to get to where he is now.” David’s role in the army was as a rifleman in the infantry. He had the added responsibility of building field fortifications such as barbed wire fences, sandbag walls and digging trenches safety and quickly. Also, obstacle crossings and methods of entry into enemy territory, including the use of explosives. After suffering from mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, David travelled around the world. Then through BuildForce, he received support into the sector; was assigned an industry mentor, secured site experience while studying and achieved a NCRQ Level 6 Diploma in Applied Health and Safety. His current role at Vistry is to upskill and support site teams and educate them in their responsibilities. Caroline Logan, programme director at BuildForce, said: "BuildForce is absolutely delighted that David has been shortlisted for such a prestigious award celebrating the achievements of veterans in the workforce and promoting the ties between military values and business. David is a hugely inspirational person and was a dream to work with – he’s hardworking, absolutely determined and has worked his way into the housebuilding industry to achieve his goals. BuildForce is honoured to have supported him in his journey to Vistry and I look forward to being there at the award ceremony to cheer David on.” David joined the army cadets when he was 13 and joined the army at 16 when he left school. His father was in the military for 17 years, including 15 years in the Royal Engineers and two years in the Royal Military Police. David recovered from his injuries but has lost feeling in the lower part of his face including his teeth and jaw – and is unable to lift his left arm, but that does not affect his work. He lives with his partner Lara and children, Oscar, 4, and Noah, 1. The British Ex-Forces in Business Awards, which highlight the military-gained skills and qualities that help employers, take place on 2nd December in London. Vistry was the first dedicated housebuilder in the industry to receive the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme’s Gold Award – the MOD’s highest award, for providing employment opportunities and helping those connected to the military onto the housing ladder. Vistry also signed the BuildForce Veteran Alliance Charter, last year, to support ex-military personnel into housebuilding.