From a young age I was always a busy boy under my father‘s banner as a builder and I always wanted to rebuild homes and follow that route. I was a good builder, hands-on, and when you use your hands for a living and then you lose them – it’s terrible; your dexterity has been thrown out the window. So how do you cope with that frustration of losing all four limbs? And how do you put all your energy and frustration into something good?
I was always wanting to help people and was a trustee of another charity, Limbless Community, when I went climbing Kilimanjaro in 2010 to raise money and support. Unfortunately, I didn’t work very long for Limbless, they had to let me go and actually told me when I was half way up Kilimanjaro. So, not to throw all the toys out the pram, I got almost to the top of Kilimanjaro and raised £86,000, then got back and thought “Right, now is my chance to really help people.”
I‘ve never been very religious but I believe in faith and sometimes when you‘re at the lowest of the low you pray to God or your mum; that‘s life, that‘s what soldiers do, that‘s what anyone does in the warzones. In 1987 when they had to amputate my arms and legs to save my life, I did the same in this chapel at Hammersmith Hospital. A vision came to me and a sound came to my mind “Limbcare”. I didn‘t know what that meant, even until 2010 when I was up Kilimanjaro, I didn‘t. But when I came down I had that feeling again, that feeling that I just had to form something called “Limbcare” to prove to people that life can be OK, even after losing four limbs. And who better in the world to do that than someone who‘s been through quite a lot of hell and back again?
I suppose that‘s why I formed Limbcare, to save my frustration from sending me round the twist and to defer all my pain to help others. And it‘s the greatest gift in the world. I work in the charity every day, which keeps me going, but I have a lovely wife who really does rebuild me in the morning, she puts me together. So if I‘m a naughty boy, she‘ll put my legs on the wrong way and I never go anywhere, so I‘ve gotta be a good boy, haven‘t I?”
And I‘ve got some lovely children, so surrounding me are friends, family and supporters who I am enriched by. I love my cars, I love my gardening, I love swimming, I love doing anything. But I love people and I can communicate very well, I‘m an inspirational speaker now and it‘s so lovely just to tell people that life is worth living whatever they go through. And that‘s my daily routine really, meeting people and living the best I can. Yes it‘s tough without hands and I wouldn‘t say it isn‘t but you know, you just gotta get on and do things, do the best you can.
The best day I‘ve had at work was when I was invited to see Her Majesty the Queen when she bestowed on me the MBE; that was lovely. To be given something from Her Majesty, well you can‘t get any higher than that, really. But meeting people and inspiring them is the greatest gift – that’s what I really love.”
To find out more about Limbcare, click here now.