Launchpad ambassador James sets next challenge of climbing North Africa’s highest mountain this September.
James announced plans to climb to the summit of Mount Toubkal in Morocco this September. Even for able-bodied people, climbing to the summit which stands at 4,167m and is North Africa’s highest peak is challenging enough but this is something James, who is a double amputee, is relishing.
James will be accompanied by fellow veterans’ John Gilpin, Ray Priest and Gerry Garvey who are collectively hoping to raise £15,000 for two veterans’ charities, Launchpad and BLESMA who support limbless veterans.
James is no stranger to achieving extreme physical challenges and his passion for mountaineering really came to the test last year when he became the first double (above the knee) amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
James, 32, from Middlesbrough joined the British Army in January 2008 was in 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, formerly the Green Howards. He had a passion for football and fitness when growing up but opted for a career in the military.
During his time at Weeton Barracks, James found out that he would be deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and it was during a mission in November that year when his life took a turn for the worse. James was on patrol when he stood on an IED. He heard the pressure plate click and knew for that split second, his life would change forever. As a result of the blast, he lost both of his legs, and suffered a broken pelvis and tail bone. He spent four years recovering in Headley Court and it was his family that helped him stay focussed and get through those dark, difficult times.
Not letting his injuries deter him, he decided to get back into fitness and started rowing. This gave him a new lease of life and in January 2014, he trained with Team GB Development Team. He also learned how to ride a hand cycle and cycled 65 miles in 2017.
In 2018, he was selected to represent Team GB at the Invictus Games in Sydney competing in the wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball, gaining silver and bronze medals respectively.
During his time at the Invictus Games, he became friends with Darren Young and together they decided to raise money for veterans with depression and PTSD. Their chosen challenge was to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, which they completed in September 2019.
Now, he has set his sights on his next challenge by tackling Mount Toubkal – North Africa’s highest mountain. James said:
“After reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro last year, I wanted to set myself another challenge. We have spent a lot of time planning this and are all very much focused on the task ahead of us. I have been training for this for months and yes, it’s about a personal challenge but it’s also about raising awareness of mental health and funds for two fantastic veterans’ charities.
“These challenges are extremely physical and painful but if you have a positive mindset and stay strong, you will get through it. You need to keep strong in your head – it’s about mind over matter.
“The intensity of the training will increase over the next few months and it will be hard, but if I can make a difference by raising money for these two fantastic charities, then it will be worth it.”
David Shaw, CEO and Founder of Launchpad, said:
“We are delighted James has chosen Launchpad as one of his charities to raise much needed funds. My staff and our residents are very grateful for this kind gesture. I would like to wish him and the other veterans joining him, all the very best for their training over the next few months and good luck with the challenge – we’ll be keeping a close eye on their progress.”
To donate, please visit Just Giving here.
Launchpad provides accommodation and support to help veterans stabilise their lives and make a successful transition from military to civilian life. Last year, the charity supported 157 veterans across two houses in Liverpool and Newcastle upon Tyne and has helped 455 veterans since 2013. 80-90% of residents who go to Launchpad are homeless.