Luke Darlington joined Her Majesty’s Royal Marines on the 7th December 2009. After Luke passed out of training in September 2010, he was assigned to 42 Commando and went straight onto pre-deployment training for the upcoming tour to Afghanistan, Operation HERRICK 14. It was whilst serving in Afghanistan that he was wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Six of the blokes on the patrol were wounded, with Luke and one other sustaining Category A injuries (the most serious). He had over 350 pieces of shrapnel removed from his body, as well as a broken cheek bone, and lacerations to the right side of his body. The most significant piece of shrapnel passed through his right temple, entering his brain, where it remains today.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Lima Company 42 Commando (Luke’s Company) had been involved in such incidents, as they had already taken one fatality and eight wounded in action (WIA).
As a result of Luke’s multiple injuries, he spent four weeks in an induced coma and had brain surgery to remove an abscess that developed due to infection. He went through months of strenuous rehabilitation at Headley Court and was soon transferred to the Queen Elizabeth II Brain Injury Centre to continue with the rehabilitation. It soon became apparent that his short service in the Royal Marine Commandos would come to an end.
Whilst in the latter stages of his rehabilitation, Luke competed in the 2014 Invictus Games and was instrumental in spreading the word about what the Games meant to the members of the fourteen different nations competing. As Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) were the presenting partners of the event, Luke started to engage with a variety of people in the business, he also attended different Town Hall meetings where he shared his story. It was at a Town Hall event that Luke learned about the Wounded, Injured and Sick Placement Programme run by JLR, Mission Motorsport (the Armed Forces’ motorsport charity) and supported in Luke’s case, by the Royal Marines Charity (formerly the C-Group) and the Royal British Legion.
On his initial placement at JLR Solihull, Luke started shadowing a Production Leader on Land Rover Defender in the Trim & Final department.
Luke said: “I was at home and feeling very depressed as I was not achieving anything in my day to day life. The placement programme allowed me to develop new skills and re-ignite old ones which I had used in the military. Suddenly my confidence began to grow and I felt worthwhile again”.
On the 30th January 2016, after six weeks at Defender Trim & Final, and a further four weeks in other departments, Luke was offered a permanent Production Leader role at JLR Solihull.
“The sense of achievement of being offered the job was fantastic, I felt like I belonged again. I had a sense of pride and purpose which was missing from my life, something I thought I was never going to get back once I left the Marines. The support I had from JLR, The Royal Marines Charity, The RBL and Mission Motorsport was fantastic and I would recommend the programme to anybody”.