Back Up welcomed Damian Riley as new Chair of Trustees

We’re delighted to announce that Damian Riley took over as our Chair of Trustees on 1 May 2024. Damian, Managing Director of Capita’s British Army Recruitment contract, brings a wealth of senior commercial expertise to the Board, along with a personal experience of living with a spinal cord injury.

As Back Up’s Chair, Damian will be responsible for working with the Board to provide leadership and strategic direction. He will work in partnership with Back Up’s CEO Abigail Lock, and the staff team to deliver Back Up’s Transforming Lives strategy. Damian will also play a vital role in developing the charity’s new five-year 2025 – 2030 strategy.

Damian joined Back Up’s Corporate Development Board in 2023, bringing a wealth of commercial experience to his work as a member of the Board. Damian is a senior executive at Capita plc and runs Capita’s recruitment contract with the British Army, recruiting around 10,000 soldiers each year.

In 2019, Damian sustained a spinal cord injury in a road traffic accident whilst riding his bike. He broke his neck and was paralysed from the chest down, impacting all four limbs. Damian spent five months in hospital, including the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre at Stanmore. Following hospital discharge, his rehabilitation lasted a further three years, during which time he learnt to walk again, regained partial use of his hands, and returned to full time employment.

Damian says:

“Recovering from, and living with, a spinal cord injury has been the toughest test that my family and I have ever faced. There are thousands of people across the UK with spinal cord injuries who have it tougher than I do.”

“But what I learnt from working with Back Up, is that with the right support, life after spinal cord injury can be fulfilling and rewarding. I benefitted from Back Up’s mentoring when I was newly injured. My mentor helped me to manage the transition from hospital to home, and to adjust to living with spinal cord injury.”

Prior to his life-changing injury Damian was a climber, mountaineer, and keen amateur triathlete. He has raised a significant amount of funds for Back Up, while participating in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in October 2023, and through public speaking engagements reflecting on what his recovery from injury has taught him about resilient organisational leadership.

Damian explains:

“Back Up’s values and their emphasis on challenge and fun, building confidence and fulfilling personal potential through participation in activities, has a great deal of personal resonance for me.”

Damian continues:

“I’m delighted and honoured to take on the role of Back Up’s new Chair of Trustees. It’s an exciting time to be joining the team. Later this week marks Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day and the launch of Back Up Connect – a new service that connects you to someone with a spinal cord injury who understands what you’re going through. I’m looking forward to working closely with the Back Up team to help support even more people affected by spinal cord injury, in the same way that Back Up supported me.”

Jo Wright, outgoing Chair of Trustees said:

“Damian has fundraised and volunteered in a range of capacities for Back Up. I am absolutely delighted that he has agreed to become our next Chair of Trustees. He brings a wealth of professional experience as well as lived experience of spinal cord injury to the role, and joins at the perfect time to contribute to the next five-year strategy. I know that under his leadership Back Up will continue to go from strength to strength.”