Surrey-born Dan Eley worked as a teacher and a youth worker before suffering a tragic diving accident and breaking his neck, while on holiday with friends in the Amazon on New years day 2010. His injuries were life-changing, leaving him paralysed from the shoulders downwards and wheelchair bound.
Dan spent one year in hospital, initially fighting for his life, and then facing up to the enormous physical and emotional challenges of being so severely paralysed.
After leaving hospital Dan was looking for a new purpose as a way to rebuild his life. Drawing on his experience as a teacher and youth worker, Dan decided to start a charity to give access-to-work skills training and mentoring for youngsters living in poverty and precarious circumstances.
As well as sponsoring youngsters in the UK, The Dan Eley Foundation (DEF) runs a partner project with a grassroots partner charity in Colombia called: Fundación Educación para Todos (FEDUT). DEF & FEDUT run intensive job training programmes for young people from slum areas, and then links them with employment in local companies.
Since the inception of our alliance with FEDUT in 2012 we have trained over 500 apprentices. The majority are now working in gainful employment, allowing them more independence, and providing economic security for them and their families.
In the UK, DEF sponsors local partners who provide extra-curricular vocational skills training, Duke of Edinburgh exhibitions, and also mentoring services to young people in needy situations in Surrey.
Dan hopes his life experience will inspire youngsters to believe in themselves, and that they can make a success of their lives in spite of personal obstacles.