Paul de Gelder

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The life of Paul de Gelder sounds more like a fictional book than reality. His choices have taken him on quite a journey; from being a rebel, to a strip club worker and a drug dealer. He’s been an adventurer, a soldier, a fitness fanatic and a Navy diver. His experiences have also led him to become a motivational speaker and encouraged him to mentor kids nationwide. Paul has had an amazing life!

In early 2009, Paul was testing diving equipment in Sydney Harbour when he was attacked by an enormous bull shark. The attack left him without his right hand and his left leg. Amazingly, instead of this horrific experience causing Paul to feel anger towards this underwater predator, it has resulted in him developing a strong appreciation for them.

Paul’s inspiring recovery took great physical and mental strength, and determination. The 32 year old doesn’t feel self pity or let the incident bring him down. He even opted to get black prosthetics as he doesn’t feel the need to hide his injuries.

When Paul was released from hospital, he decided against going to a rehabilitation clinic and opted out of counselling sessions. With his strong will and the help of his friends, Paul worked through his recovery and turned the negative experience into a positive.

In just four short months after the attack, Paul and his then-girlfriend went skydiving. Today nothing is standing in his way. With his custom designed prosthetics, Paul can push out reps of chin ups, surf and drive a car. He has raced in a Porsche, flown a plane, and in what may seem crazy to others – has since dived with Bull, Reef, Tiger and even Great White Sharks.

Paul experiences in life allow him to speak first hand about beating the odds, and finding ways to overcome adversity. He is living proof that with mental and physical courage, and the strong will to live – any obstacle can be conquered.

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome is a mantra which is often used by the Marine Corps. It has played an instrumental part in Paul’s recovery and is a strong reminder that everyone owes it to themselves to make the most of every day, regardless of what hurdles they face.

Paul has recently spoken to US Navy diving personnel who flew in from San Diego to hear him speak. After his speech he received a standing ovation. He has also spoken to children with cancer who he believes are much worse off than himself.

Client Comments

“Paul de Gelder has an incredible story to tell. It is a story of overwhelming odds, brilliantly overcome through hard work, gutsy determination, and a great sense of humor. I knew in an instant that I needed Paul to tell his story to the Divers of the United States Navy. His effortless charm and engaging manner reels you in for the most motivating ride of your life. A man is not defined by what happens to him, he is defined by how he handles it. That makes Paul a most remarkable man!”
Commander Michael Egan, United States Navy, Supervisor of Diving.

“From the moment I met Paul in his hospital bed, I knew I was privileged. Horrendously mauled and recovering from such drastic surgery… I was overwhelmed by his aura, his positive outlook and his will to live. In eight years of reporting for 60 Minutes, Paul, without question is one of the most inspirational human beings I have met! Everyone, whoever they are, can learn so much from Paul… I know I have.”
Peter Overton, Reporter, 60 Minutes


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Paul de Gelder

  Travels from:
Sydney, Australia

  Contact:
1300 884 485+61295183944

  Specialty Areas:
Inspirational Speakers, Speakers, Change Management Speakers

Book:
  • No Time for Fear: How a shark attack survivor beat the odds (2011)


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