Andy Reid joined the Army in 1997 and toured Northern Ireland, Germany, Kosovo and Iraq. After receiving severe injuries on patrol in Afghanistan, Andy now spends his time supporting organisations that help the Forces community.
Can we talk about your injury brieﬂy and of course, your recovery?
I went on a routine foot patrol to search a compound for weapons and bomb-making equipment. I stepped on an IED device.
They tidied up my wounds in Camp Bastion and put me into an induced coma. So I spent about three days in critical care. When I came around, the doctors said that I’d lost my right leg below the knee, my left leg above the knee and my right arm above the elbow. Straight away I just thought: ‘I’m a survivor, not a victim. I’m going to start setting myself some goals and start moving my life forward’.
I’d met this girl called Claire, she’s absolutely amazing. I thought, when I come back from Afghanistan, there is no reason why I can’t ask her to marry me and walk down the aisle with her. I put that up there as my ultimate goal. One of my friends from the Regiment said there was going to be a big service; the Duke of Wellington is coming to camp and everyone is going to be awarded an Operational Service Medal. I thought, if I can stand up from my wheelchair and get my medal, then all the mums and dads, wives and girlfriends will know if their sons and daughters and partners are injured, that with hard work and determination, they’ll be able to carry on with their lives.
You do a lot of work for Forces charities…
I kind of fell into motivational speaking; I was on a cruise ship and everyone was asking me what had happened to me. The cruise director invited me to do a talk on the stage, so that everyone would know what happened and leave me alone to enjoy my holiday.
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity supported me when I got injured; they came around to my house and put a bed downstairs, so I could come home. Since then I’ve been fundraising for them, jumping out of aeroplanes and doing bike rides and all kinds of things. Step Forward Homes is a housing organisation that ﬁ nds affordable housing for Veterans and asked me to come on board with them.
Do you think that your Military background helped you to recover? You seemed to know exactly what to do immediately after your injuries…
Some of my friends didn’t come home from Afghanistan, so out of respect for them I’ve got to push on, forging the best life that I can have for myself. I think it would be disrespectful to the guys who didn’t come home, if I didn’t.
You’re busy elsewhere with your own businesses and as Armed Forces ambassador for Morson Group…
I’ve got my own wine bar in St Helens and a coffee shop in the village where we live.
I did a motivational talk for Wigan Athletic FC. They’d lost about four games on the trot, so I did a talk for them and they won their next three games. They were playing Manchester Utd at Old Trafford so I went on the team bus with them and had a great time. After the game I went to meet Sir Alex Ferguson in his private box. One of his friends owns the engineering recruitment company, Morson Group. He asked me to come and speak to his staff at a conference, so I went and spoke. I just got a really good feeling about the company and its values and standards. They’ve won the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Gold Award which encourages employers to support the Armed Forces community. I felt there was an opportunity to be the Morson Group Armed Forces ambassador, and it works really well. I can attend events for them as a friendly face, breaking down barriers.