Andy joined the Royal Marines at 17, and Served for six and a half years including tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Andy’s Military career was cut short after he was injured in an explosion in Afghanistan. Since then he’s been an Invictus Games champion, world record breaker – and he’s now a motivational speaker and author.
How was your resettlement after your medical discharge?
I was facing life as an amputee. I needed to start thinking about a career after the Marines. In my spare time I was going into local schools delivering presentations about my Military career and about what life was like in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought I would make a career in motivational speaking. So thankfully, the Royal Marines funded me to see a life coach. I then put together a presentation that would then turn into a new business model for me. I started speaking on the back of my injury and trying to show people that despite, the setbacks that we all face, you don’t have to be defined by them.
Can we talk specifically about your injury?
I suffered 27 different injuries from facial injuries, broken elbow, broken sternum, shrapnel to both arms, and big chunks out of my right thigh which severed my femoral artery; that’s the thing that nearly killed me. I broke both lower legs and suffered nerve damage to both hands and feet.
And it knackered your tattoo…
Oh yes; obviously one of the characteristics of the Royal Marines is Commando humour and not taking yourself too seriously. When I woke up I had a tattoo that read ‘You’ll Never Walk’, (as oppose to Liverpool FC’s motto: ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’) it was either laugh or cry and thankfully we’ve all been able to have a good laugh at it since.
You were also a medallist at the inaugural Invictus Games and became the fastest one-legged amputee over 10k in the world…
I really started training properly and taking running a lot more seriously. I won a couple of gold medals – so that then spurred me on to the 10k record.
I was in the Marines so I think it was already in me. People look at it and think it’s really dramatic and motivational what I’ve done, whereas in my mind, it was just really continuing the life I already had when I had two legs.
Tell us about your new book…
I’ve been asked to write a book a couple of times but it was always about what it was like getting blown up and the recovery. So when I broke the world records, that was something that I was really proud of and I was happy to then say, now I feel like there’s a story to be told. I didn’t just want to write a book saying: ‘My name is Andy and I got blown up’. I wanted it to be: ‘Despite getting blown up, I’ve gone on to achieve x, y and z…’
We all go through tough times. Challenges come in many different forms but ultimately if people can see how I’ve been able to bounce back, then I can give them hope as well.
Andy’s autobiography, ‘You’ll Never Walk’ is available from all good bookshops 24th May (published by deCoubertin Books).