A British Army veteran who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan is preparing to climb Britain's highest mountain.
James Rose, who is Area Recruitment Manager at Swindon-based specialist security company SSGC, is set to tackle Ben Nevis on 27 September alongside a team of fellow veterans.
[Anchor] James was due to climb Morocco’s highest peak, Mount Toubkal this year, but this has been postponed due to covid restrictions. Instead, he is set to climb Scotland’s ancient giant to highlight the importance of mental health awareness and to raise money for Blesma, a military charity that guarantees limbless veterans are not failed, forgotten or left to fend for themselves.
He said: “I think some of us sometimes underestimate the importance of taking care of our mental health and speaking out when we feel like we’re drowning.
“After my injury, I was suffering quite a bit but didn’t voice my troubles; partly because I didn’t know I was suffering. At that point in life, I seemed to be going around in circles, was drinking a lot and had trouble with my weight. Looking back, I wish I had spoken up sooner.
“My advice to anyone out there who is struggling to cope is to speak up and not bottle up anything inside. Find something you are passionate about and keep trying to better yourself and push yourself to work past the challenges that life throws at you."
James, 33 and a father-of-one, was on a tour of Helmand Province with the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment in 2009 when he stood on the pressure plate of an improvised explosive device (IED) and his life changed forever.
In addition to a broken pelvis and tail bone, James lost both legs above the knee, following which he suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, weight gain and depression for several years.
However, with the support of family and friends, James was able to get the help he needed and has come full circle, with life looking a lot brighter now.
He decided to get back into fitness and, with it, became a para-athlete and appeared at the Invictus Games in 2018, where he competed in the wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball events, winning silver and bronze medals.
He then went on to take up rowing and hand cycling, and is now an avid mountain climber in the UK and across the world.
In 2019, he became the first double above-knee amputee to make it to the summit of the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro, completely unaided by prosthetics.
James served his country once again as he answered the rallying call from specialist security company SSGC, based in Swindon, to man Covid-19 test centres around the country at the height of the pandemic last year.
Today, James has secured permanent employment at SSGC as its area recruitment manager and uses sport and fitness to keep his mental health in check.
He said: “I found my passion in sports and didn’t allow my disability to stop me from achieving something great. Even when I was hit by a car during my hand cycling stint or almost drowned while rowing, I found it in me to push through and compete at an event two weeks later and look for something else I was passionate about, like hiking. That is what really gets me going today.”
“I never knew I would enjoy working so much either but jumped at the opportunity to work at SSGC and love the routine of working at the company today."
The team of veterans taking part in the Ben Nevis climb includes John Gilpin, Gerry Garvey, Ray Priest, James Dillon and Steven Johnson.
James is also writing a book about his life and journey so far. Called No Excuses, it will be published in December.
People can make donations to the Blesma charity at https://blesma.enthuse.com/pf/james-rose
More information about SSGC can be found at www.ssgc-net.com or by searching for SSGC on social media.