Throughout my school years, I was heavily involved in a wide variety of sports. I enjoyed cycling, fishing and hill walking. I also played rugby and rode motocross bikes. Little did I know that all my sporting life in past school years would play such a vital role in my current day to day life.
From riding motorcross bikes and cycling my love for two wheels grew and grew, which led me to do my CBT and get a road bike at the age of 17. During the summer month’s I would never be off of my bike, any opportunity to be out on it I was.
After leaving school I went on to college to study aeronautical engineering during the day, whilst working part-time as a chef at the local pub at night. No longer enjoying my course at college I decided I would try cooking full time and found I had a real passion for it. I was very fortunate to have been offered a job at a 2 AA rosette hotel/restaurant on the Isle of Skye at age 19 following which I took on a job at Kinloch Lodge which at the time was 1 Michelin star. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my bike to Skye with me.
After spending a year working on Skye it was time to come home after suffering from some mental health issues, I felt it was the best move. This then led to me taking a job in the pastry kitchen at Trump Turnberry which also meant my love for bikes was back as it was my only method of transport. The pastry team at Turnberry works very hard, usually the first in the kitchen and the last to leave. With working at Turnberry came a higher salary so I thought it was time to get a bigger bike that was more reliable so I went and sat my A2 License. I got a bigger bike but it wasn’t necessarily more reliable. Fed up with breakdowns and messing around I went to the motorcycle dealers and bought a Ducati Monster 696 sport.
Whilst travelling to work in June 2017, I was involved in very serious road traffic collision. Due to the severity of my injuries, I was sedated at the roadside and airlifted to hospital. On arrival, I was immediately put through the CT scanner.
In short, I was very lucky to be alive. Without the air ambulance and exceptional first-response care, I would not be. I was immediately rushed into theatre for over 20 hours of surgery. Following my surgery, I was put into an induced coma for my own safety.
The bone in my left leg had broken so badly that it had severed an artery, which resulted in an above knee amputation 5 days later. I had no knowledge of my injuries or that I was getting my leg amputated until I woke from my coma 3 weeks later. My family bore the brunt of this trauma on my behalf.
After waking from my coma, I was given the news about my amputation and my other injuries I had suffered and, as you can imagine, those first few days of realisation were very difficult for me. I once again found myself feeling very low, wondering what my life could possibly be like going forward.
Start of my professional sporting journey
Once I had fully recovered and learned to walk again but un-able to work I was at a loss, I didn’t know what to do with myself. My physios would set me challenges every week to build up my strength, which gave me something to work on.
One Friday afternoon Scott Meenagh, a British Paralympian, came in and took a group of us walking around the hospital grounds to get used to different types of terrain. Scott had lost both his legs in the army but has fought back to represent both himself and his country at the highest level of sport.
Scott helped me realise that my injuries may have been life threatening but they were not life- ending. There is no doubt that they were life changing – but I had the opportunity to make that a life-change for the better. After hearing his story, I knew I had to go and try some sports.
I went to the rowing centre at Strathclyde Park, near Glasgow where I met my coach John Blair, he not only taught me how to row but he helped me with my mental health which always came first before anything else.
Ironically, Scott and John had previously crossed paths with rowing, Scott then presented the opportunity to come skiing with himself and the Armed Forces Para Snow Sports team and my skiing journey started.