Henry Dunn - A Year On: Henry's Journey from the Outback to CrossFit Glory

Henry Dunn is a twenty-four-year-old CrossFit competitor and fitness enthusiast from Gloucestershire, with a lifelong passion for sports and fitness.

Henry played Rugby competitively from a young age and continues to regularly hit the gym. This passion led him to pursue a degree in Sport Injuries and Rehabilitation at Cardiff Metropolitan University. After graduating in 2020, he and his partner seized the opportunity to travel as soon as the UK borders reopened after the COVID lockdown. They explored Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia, making the most of every minute and indulging in activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, and motorcycling across countries.

Following an incredible 9 months of travel, Henry's partner returned home to England to complete her teacher training course, while Henry ventured to the Northern Territory to work on a remote Cattle Station as a Station Hand Jackaroo. Immersed in the raw beauty of the Outback, he found the experience challenging but fulfilling. “It was like working in a wild west film”, said Henry. “It was hard work and long hours each day and I was completely out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I did it.” However, just a week before his scheduled return to England, tragedy struck. While working on the station fitting posts, Henry's left arm was crushed in a Hydraulic Post Rammer. In the remote wilderness and in considerable pain, he improvised a tourniquet and embarked on an eight-hour journey travelling well over 500 kilometres to reach the nearest hospital, involving a car ride, an air ambulance helicopter, and treacherous weather conditions.

Upon reaching the hospital, Henry was rushed into surgery in a bid to save his arm. “The surgeon told me if they can save it, the surgery will take fifteen hours or so and if not, it will take a few”, said Henry. When I looked at the clock after waking up, I knew my arm wouldn’t be there.” Henry’s arm was amputated just below the elbow and after hearing the news, his dad flew out on the next available flight to be with his son. Henry spent the next 2 weeks in the hospital and a further week in a hotel before flying back to the UK in December 2022. Being Christmas time- Henry was kept busy for the first month catching up with friends and family and getting into his rehabilitation. What followed were the dark months of January-March which Henry describes as an ‘extremely difficult time’ following his accident, especially after spending a year travelling.

Recognising that he needed a focus, at the end of January, Henry went to his first CrossFit class and hasn’t looked back since. “I knew it would give me a focus and challenge me physically and mentally which was exactly what I needed at the time”, said Henry. “In CrossFit any exercise can be adapted to suit my needs and there’s a huge sense of community in the sport.” Henry now trains every day and is working towards taking part in competitions in 2024.

In April 2023, Henry was referred to the Dorset Orthopaedic clinic in Amersham by his Occupational Therapist. There, he collaborated with Prosthetist Hakim and Physiotherapist Kat to be fitted with a body-powered prosthesis with attachments aiding him in various daily activities. “Wearing my body powered prostheses has massively helped me regain strength in my left arm; I can carry shopping bags and attach barbells with the correct attachment in place”, said Henry. He is now in the position to undergo myoelectric trials with several different prosthetic devices to find the best fit for him. “When you go to Dorset Orthopaedic, you leave knowing that you’ve made maximal progression and output from the team, it’s a very open environment where we can discuss all the options available to me.”

Day to day, Henry spends his time with loved ones, keeping fit and training daily. Recently, he raised over £7000 for the Amputation Foundation which helped him greatly in the early stages of his rehabilitation. The Amputation Foundation are a charitable organisation that aids amputees and medical professionals who work to provide new amputees with the best possible start following amputation. Through the charity and the nature of social media, Henry has immersed himself in the amputee community, making friends worldwide. It has been a year since Henry’s accident, and he is looking forward to the future to continue his training and progress his career. “I don’t regret going to the cattle station or travelling; it’s important to focus on the future and always give yourself a challenge." CrossFit has given Henry the discipline and focus, which has massively progressed his prosthetic development. Henry stated that he looks forward to what the future will hold and the opportunities to come.