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.

What happened after you were medically discharged from the Army?

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 put together a presentation and 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 experienced 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 had nerve damage to both hands and feet.

And it ruined 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.

How did the motivational speaking start?

Initially, it was an interesting story: getting blown up – and there was a demand for it – but after doing that for maybe a year or two I realised that the whole premise of my motivational speaking is not to just dwell on the past, it’s more to look forward to the future.

The Marines played a big part of it in that sense: the values, the skills, determination and resilience. Being able to adapt to my new life. I don’t see myself as being disabled and I think my mind set has been a big factor in that. I want to prove to myself that I’m still the same person.

What do people look for you to discuss as a motivational speaker?

There are lots of reasons why people want to hear me speak. My story resonates with people on so many different levels, whether that’s a personal level, dealing with their grief, for example, so I speak about losing my mum, or whether it’s having setbacks in your life or whether it’s just trying to get
to that next level.

I think change is a big one and self-motivation, and I think people just need a reminder sometimes that actually you are more resilient than you think you are and you can cope with more than you think. Actually, we’re all pretty strong, we all have resilience and we’ve just got to have a bit of faith in ourselves and appreciate and challenge ourselves that little bit more; not be scared of change but to try to embrace it.

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. I was always living an active lifestyle. I was always really fit and at the top of my game. I was kind of living it, it wasn’t personal, it was part of the job. (Once I’d been discharged) I just started taking it to the next level. I didn’t feel like I was that young, fit Marine anymore and I didn’t have a job that I was getting paid to get up and keep fit and climb mountains and push myself for. Now I had to do all that myself, so I just started setting myself challenges again.

People look at it and think what I’ve done is really dramatic and motivational, 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.