News

25th August 2017 

On the 21st September 2017 is the release date for 'Unconquerable: The Invictus Spirit' by Boris Starling (Author) I will be featured in this book along with a few others. This book is about my story and journey through the Invictus Games.

The book is now out for pre-order and will be hitting the shelves on the 21st September - so keep an eye out for it. 

You can pre-order now by clicking here

10th September 2017

Today I set off to Lille for the Big Battlefield Big Ride. As a group we will be cycling nearly 400 miles in  days to finish in Arnhem to celebrate the Centenary. Having been part of 9 Squadron this is a very poignant ride for me and I am looking forward to it.  

This will be my 5th Big Battlefield Bike Ride and I will be riding alongside Friends and new Friends - it will be a great week with lots of stories shared. 

11th September 2017

Today it has been announced that I will be at the Homebuilding and Renovating Show at the ExCeL London on the 23rd September talking about how my Stiltz lift changed not just Mine but my Families life. You can book tickets to attend here

 

Click here to see my video. 

17th September 2017

On Saturday Morning I returned home from Arnhem where I cycled nearly 400 Miles from Lille, France. We went to pay our respects to those involved in 'Operation Market Garden' in 1944. I spent my Military Career with 9 Sqn, RE, so to have been able to cycle to Arnhem with so many other was an privilege. 

When we arrived at Oosterbeek War Cemetery on Friday I was asked to lay a wreath, this was a huge honour and a memory that will always stick with me. 

We had some obscene weather while we were away, at one point I thought the rain was coming up from the roads, I had to change how I sit in my bike a few times to try and stay as dry as I could, when you are in the laying down position it can be interesting going through puddles. The weather was very different to the Race Across America ride. 

Im now home and I have a large amount of emails to get through and some work on this week to keep me busy, I have some presentations to work on and some much needed family time to plan in. 

I will leave you with some images from the ride, huge thank you to Arthur Edwards for capturing the top two. 

Dont forget the book that I am featured in comes out on Thursday, so if you haven't and want to pre-order it you can do here - ORDER 

25th September 2017

Today I went up to see a very good friend of mine, Micky Yule who is in Hospital at the Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham. This is where we all spent the first few months after Injury. 

Micky was injured 3 months before I was and we were both with 9 Sqn at the time, we spent many months together at Headley Court and have stayed firm friends since. 

When he told me he was having this life changing surgery I wanted to be there to see how he was getting on. 
Micky has had Osseointegration in both his legs.  This is where surgeons drill into the Femur and remove the bone density and marrow and insert metal rods in which then harden and become part of the leg, Instead of putting Carbon fibre sockets on and walking, you then just clip the leg onto the Abutment and go. 

Dr Munjed Al Muderis is behind this medical advance and has been working in Australia to perform these operations, he has been given the funding to perform this in the UK and teach British Surgeons to carry this out. 

In January 2016 I flew out to Sydney to see another good friend of mine, Clive Smith (Photo on the right) after his Osseo operation. Clive was struggling with his sockets and made the descision to have this life changing surgery and it has without a doubt changed his life for the better. In May this year I witnessed him marry Jennifer and it was such a special moment, to have seen him go through his Operation, rehab and then be standing on his legs to marry her was a 'smokey room' moment. 

I know that Micky will be there soon and then there will be no stopping him, he competed at the Paralympics last year in Rio and I know he will go onto more competitions, smash more PB's, there is much more in this old boy to come. 

6th November 2017

I have just returned from 7 days in Egypt where I have been diving with Deptherapy 

Deptherapy gave me the opportunity to go out to Egypt with 9 other Wounded guys to undertake various PADI Qualifications. I had already done my Open Water PADI when I was in the Maldives in 2016 and now I was about to do my Advanced Open Water, Deep Dive and Side Mount PADI Qualifications as part of the Side Mount Qual you have to take a cylinder off, swim away from it then swim back to it to remount it without touching the sea bed, it was a challenge with one arm but I found a way to do it. This was a lot to squeeze into a week but my incredible Instructor, Martin Weddell made sure this would happen. 

Richard Cullen is the lead on Deptherapy and the man behind this incredible Charity. They give the chance for people like myself, who have been severely injured, the opportunity to go and do something they never thought possible. They also help the guys who have hidden wounds, there is something about being under the water that makes life so much calmer and you can forget what is going on above water for a few hours. 

We stayed at the Roots Red Sea for the week and we were diving with The Pharaoh Dive Club

During the week's dive I saw some incredible things underwater; the water was so clear and magical. I learnt this week that Clown Fish (Nemo) are not so friendly. They can see their reflection in your mask and try to nip you. I saw all kinds of fish but no Sharks, which I was secretly pleased about. 

Before I went out to this Exped, O'Three were commissioned by Deptherapy to custom make me two wetsuits; one for cooler water and one for the warmer water. This made the dive even more enjoyable, to know that my suit fitted me perfectly, there was no worry of any thing moving or coming loose. I have had it made so that the ends around my stumps are stitched together. It was great and I cannot say thank you enough for these. 

All week we were doing 'Beach Dives' which is pretty much what the title says and you dive from the shore rather than off a boat. Getting into the water is tricky for any amputee never mind a double or a triple, you end up with sand in places you don't want it to be; even with my new wetsuit sand will find a way to get in there, so they used their method of getting us out to the water - a wheelbarrow! Who knew that such a simple item that most household will own would make such a difference to us out here.

For our last dive we were taken out on a boat to explore the Salem Express. This was a passenger ship that sank after colliding with the Hyndman Reefs on the Egyptian coast in the early hours of 17 December 1991. The ship sank to the bottom of The Red Sea shortly after midnight that day. 

This was an incredible dive but also very eerie to see and swim around. Nearly 500 people died on this ship in 1991. 

I swam the whole way around the ship, stopping for a phew photos in between. This was a bittersweet way to end the week, diving around such a moving yet interesting ship. 

I would like to say a huge thank you to Richard Cullen who lead this expedition to Egypt, Martin Weddell who was my Instructor for the week also to Andy and Sharron who helped with my Education as a Diver, Dmity Knyazev who took all these incredible photos you have seen, Roots for looking after us so well, The Pharaoh Diving Club and to all of those who were also on this expedition and made this trip the experience it was. I have made some great friends amongst the Wounded Lads who were also on the trip and ones I hope to dive again soon with. 

Now to start researching where to dive next...

12th November 2017

It was an absolute honour to have marched in London today for the Remembrance Parade, I am proud to have served my Country and to come together today is something I will never forget. 

Our group of 40 Wounded, Injured and Sick service personnel were led by Col (Retired) David Richmond CBE this morning. 

#lestweforget

21st November 2017

On Saturday I had the pleasure of being in Manchester for the Inaugural CASEVAC club meeting. 
This is a club set up by two fellow Wounded Soldiers, David Wiseman and Dave Henson who were inspired by the famous Gineau Pig club. 

It is an honour to be a part of this club and I am looking forward to the next 50+ years! 

#28Blokes27Legs

23rd November 2017

On Sunday I did my Rescue Diver Course Pre-Assessment..... Next stop Egypt! If I can manage to get through this course with a pass that will make me the first Triple Amputee Rescue Diver! 

Huge thank you to Richard Cullen for everything you have done at Deptherapy to get me to where I am now, roll on 2018!

3rd December 2017

Great Article in The Sunday Times today about the CASEVAC Club - thanks Mark Hookham for a great write up 

You can have a look at the Article here

13th December 2017

Last night along with 8 other CASEVAC club members we attended the The European Premiere for #TheLastJedi - what a fantastic night it was, huge thank you to The Royal Foundation for inviting

us. #starwars#9Blokes9Legs #legends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17th December 2017

Tonight I am attending the 2017 Sports Personality of the Year awards in Liverpool. What better way to experience something that has been a bucket list item for me than with these fine men. #SPOTY17

Huge Thank you to the Invictus Games team for inviting me along tonight. 

31st December 2017

Today is not only the last day of 2017 for me, today marks 7 years since I had a small accident in Afghanistan. 

To say the last 7 years have been a rollercoaster would be skimming the surface. I have spent this morning looking back at what I have achieved and none of this would have been possible without the constant support of my friends and loved ones. 
2017 alone has had some huge highs but some serious lows. This year I achieved one of my goals since being injured and that was crossing the finish line of the Race Across America with an incredible team of other wounded blokes. I have found a love of Scuba Diving of which my education is going to continue in 2018 thanks to Deptherapy, I have seen Portsmouth FC be promoted to League 1 and I have also achieved something I have wanted to for a long time and that is to go back to work, its only when you are thrown out of your Career that you realise how important it is to do something you love, I am using my new Career to give something back, whether it be in Casualty Simulation or helping others with my story and ethos on life. 

Tonight I will be seeing in the New Year with a few Friends and Family, I will be raising a glass to all those who helped me on this day 7 years ago, you know who you are, those who have helped me through the last 7 years and to those who will help me in the future. 

Thank you 2017 and here’s to 2018 and more Epic Sh*t!

JB 

(The 2nd photo is NOT from 7 years ago!)

January 2018

In January BLEMSA invited to London for a week to teach me how to tell my story. 

I spent the week learning more about my story then I thought I knew. They stripped it back and rebuilt the way I told so that I could adapt it to any audience I had. 

 

BLESMA in collaboration with the Drive project set up the Community Project in 2017 to continue to inspire and motivate by training Blesma Members in story-telling and public speaking, enabling participants to take their stories of overcoming adversity into schools and community groups to help others deal with every day issues and challenges.

 

The first day they had us on stage singing and moving about and I thought to myself, what have I got involved in? 

By the end of the week I had a solid story that I am now confident telling. 

 

Schools are invited to apply for a BLESMA Member to go in for anywhere between 20-30 minutes right up to an hour and a half, depending what they want. The workshops are free to the School and for Children between the ages of 11-18. 

 

I am really enjoying be a part of this programme, I feel I am giving something back to the younger generation to remind them that no matter what you can achieve what ever you want to do. 

 

After returning from a School I received this email from a Mother of one of the Students; 

 

“Just wanted to say a huge thank you for going along to my Son’s School today and sharing your experiences. My son has come home chattering endlessly about you and proclaimed your talk "inspirational". He wanted me to Google you so I could read for myself what a remarkable person you are. Why do I want to thank you? My son is autistic, he never talks about his school day and never talks enthusiastically about anything other than Minecraft! Whatever you said, it's made a huge impression, so many thanks again.”

 

To know that I have helped that one student is proven what a special and incredible project I am a part of. 

 

We have now come to the end of the 2018 Community Project and they had an aim to reach 10,000 Students, but we have actually reached 12,177 Students. I feel incredible proud and honoured to have been part of a team who delivered that. 

 

You can find out more about BLESMA and the amazing work they do.

 

 

February - July 2018

The last six months have been busy to say the least. My training was ramping up for the Invictus Games Trials in Bath which were held at the beginning of April. 

I thought long and hard as to whether I should apply to do Invictus again, I had been twice and there were so many other people yet to have a shot at it. At the end of February the reasons to apply had changed from, wanting to beat my 2016 Cycling result and hopefully win that Gold that I have wanted to win since I first heard of the Invictus Games to needing it more than ever for my Recovery. I had started to have trouble with my arm stump, it was bruised and sore and I was hoping it wasn't another infection. After visiting My Surgeon at Salisbury District Hospital and having an ultra sound it confirmed I need surgery to remove a large infection. 

I applied for the 2018 Invictus Games to keep me moving after yet another set back. 

I was on a high dose of Antibiotics but I had my Surgery booked for May and was cleared to carry on as normal until then. I knew going into the Trials I wasn't in a good place because of my arm but I made the choice I wanted to be part of the 2018 Invictus Games UK team and I was fully committed to this journey. 

In the Cycling trial I could only complete 1 lap of the TT before I had to pull off the track, the pain was just too much to bear. I spoke with the Cycling coach and he knew I was a competent Cyclist and that I needed to rest. 

The following day I didn't even put my socket on to give it the best chance of rest before the Rowing Trial the next day, this was the sport I knew I needed to prove myself in as it wasn't a regular sport of mine. There were four of us to compete in the IR1 classification. After putting every bit of energy, power and gritting through the pain I was in I won both the 1 minute as the 4 minute. I was so pleased I had managed to do this considering the state my arm was in and the quality of the other hopefuls I was up against. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also been in the middle of moving house. My Wife and I have relocated due to her new job in London. We completed on the sale of house in at 1500 and. by 0900 the following day I was on the operating table having my surgery done. 

It was a long road ahead of recovery for me. The operation had gone well but they had had to do a little more to the bone then they had planned. 

A few weeks into my recovery I got the news that I hadn't been selected for the 2018 Invictus Games. A whole host of emotions swept through me, I was angry and upset, I was gutted I couldn't take my little boy to watch me compete but most of all I felt let down. I tried to not let it get to me and once I had accepted it I moved on. 

Thinking back to that decision now I think not being selected was a blessing in disguise as I have had so many opportunities come along since then. I got back on my bike as soon as I could and have continued to use this as a way to keep fit.

I was invited to the 'Hot Shots' calendar shoot in Salt Lake City, USA and part of this was taking some of the photos for the playing cards. I have never taken photos before and I was taught how to set the camera up, what angles to go for and how they choose the end pictures.  The Hots Shots were set up to raise money for both UK and American Military Charities, they all donate their fee and through the sale of the calendar they donate this all to their chosen Charities. 

I have made some life long friends through this and have a few more ventures with them planned. 

My speaking has gone from strength to strength and have some exciting things lined up. I have had some small and intimate talks to larger commercial one, each one I adapt my presentation to suit the outcome they require. The BLESMA Community project has finished for this Academic year and I will be getting involved more next year too.

So what am I currently doing now? Well I am putting together a presentation for my upcoming dive to Chuuk Lagoon which I leave for next Friday and I have my new dates for my Rescue Divers course which I had to cancel due to my arm infection. All of this is possible thanks to Deptherapy

I have just moved into my new home and life is ticking over nicely for me. I know I need some more surgery on my leg this year but I have prepared myself for that. 

I have some projects with the Invictus Games Foundation that I am working on but more news on that to come in the following months. 

Until then,

JB

August 2018

Chuuk Lagoon diving expedition.... What a time to be alive! 

On Saturday I arrived home from one of the best Diving expeditions I have been on. Thanks to Deptherapy I have now got Chuuk Lagoon to add to my diving log. 

Chuuk Lagoon is also previously known as Truuk Lagoon, is a sheltered body of water in the central Pacific. About 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) north-east of New Guinea it is located mid-ocean at 7 degrees North latitude and is part of Chuuk State within the Federal States of Micronesia.

 

We left London on the 3rdAugust ready for a long two days of travelling ahead of us. We had to fly to Manilla first where we stayed overnight and then from there we flew to Guam and then finally into Chuuck International Airport. 

We were then on a +9hr time difference but keen to get under the water excited to see what was down there. 

 

We had 8 days of solid wreck diving to complete and we saw some incredible things down there. The exped was challenging and took me out of my comfort zone on more than one occasion. At one point when we were diving around the Shinkoku Maru, which is an old Japanese Naval Tanker that was sunk in 1944 by the US Navy as part of Operation Hailstone, I was coming out of the wreck when a 6ft Grey Reef Shark swam past me. It was a definite “Oh F**K” moment. But that is why life is worth living, for those moments. 

It was great to also dive with other injured lads who have been through the mixer like I have. Seeing how these guys have progressed and are still progressing within their diving careers. You learn off each other to improve your own skills and drills.  

 

 

Whilst we were there we also went to a Church in a neighbouring Island where we gave out gifts of Pens, books, reading glasses and other small necessities to the Children that they don’t have access too. Even though I walked 3 and a half miles through the jungle it was humbling day and we even took time for a game of football with them. 

 

It was an incredible 2 weeks away and a huge thank you goes again to Deptherapy for giving me this amazing opportunity. The staff led by Richard Cullen are all volunteers and give their time up for nothing. They are all top, top people.

My next diving trip will be in October with Deptheraphy where I be furthering my diving education training to become a rescue diver, this is going to be a hard course, but I am looking forward to getting stuck in. 

 

Photo credits – Dmitry Knyazev 

 

22nd October 2018

Deptherapy Expedition 2018, Rescue Divers course.

Last Thursday I returned home from what I can only describe as the hardest yet most rewarding week of my life. 

I went back out to Roots Red Sea Resort, to start and hopefully pass my PADI Rescue Divers course.

I had been to Roots before and I was familiar with the resort and the sea I was going to be spending a lot of time under. 

 

Martin Weddell and  Simon Reed were to be my instructors for the week. We started on the Friday morning and worked through till Sunday evening. I had to pass both a practical assessment and a theory test. 

There are many in the diving world and society generally, including many in the area of diving medicine who doubt the ability of those with life changing mental and physical challenges to succed or even be safe as scuba divers.

Deptherapy treat this discriminatory behaviour very seriously and their students are pushed to achieve PADI standards plus so that those naysayers in the industry can see that it is possible for those with high level mental and physical disabilities to achieve and above all be safe, capable and competent divers.

So when I said I wanted to complete my Rescue Course they knew that many doubters would be out there. I can just imagine the words "Impossible", "rubbish", "they have just given him his cert to look good".

Really? Well if you can dead lift a thirteen stone (86kg) man out of the pool one handed just let me know. Few understand the huge upper body strength that amputees like myself, Chris, Ben and Andy have developed.

 

I have lost both my legs and my right arm but I have my physical strength and determination. Words such as 'no way' and 'can't' just aren't words I or anyone else who dives with Deptherapy will use. 

Martin Weddell (PADI Master Instructor (MI) and one of the charity's trustees) was running the Rescue Course and because of the volume of naysayers in the industry he asked that the other 3 MIs in the dive team for the expedition join him in assessing my skills, ability and most all of that I met and exceeded all of PADI's standards. So it was a Rescue Course assessment by panel, this wasn't going to be a walk in the park. Doubt one of them and you doubt the four of them.

The video is of a controlled lift I performed that Richard Cullen captured on his GoPro, of PADI Dive Master Simon Reed, from the bottom on the Roots' House Reef.  Richard said "The control is perfect, the speed of ascent excellent and you can see how Josh clamps his stumps on to the cylinder. This is a better lift than I have seen many PADI Pros perform."

On the Sunday night I was told I had passed my theory assessment but I wouldn't know until Monday morning if I had passed the practical. 

On Monday morning Martin gave me the news that I has passed and was now a rescue diver. I have since found out that I am the first triple amputee to become a rescue diver which is great but is not why I did the course. I did the course because I wanted to further my education and within the sport of Scuba Diving. 

To say I am chuffed with myself is an understatement, I feel I have proved a few people wrong and shown if you put your mind to something and put the effort in you can achieve anything.

 

Whats next? The Ocean still terrifies me because every time I go down there I think I am going to get eaten by something so I have signed up to do a Shark diving week next year.

Thank you to Rich, Martin, Si and the rest of the Deptherapy crew for believing in me and allowing me to achieve this. 

JB