Afghanistan veteran with medals and child
19 August 2013

Lance Bombardier James Simpson Defies All Obstacles for SSAFA

James Simpson is making history as the first double amputee to take part in the UK Spartan Sprint, one of the toughest obstacle challenges out there.


Lance Bombardier James Simpson Defies All Obstacles for SSAFA

Lance Bombardier James Simpson is making history as the first double amputee to take part in the UK Spartan Sprint, one of the toughest obstacle challenges out there.

He is doing it in aid of SSAFA and will be using modified running blades to get him round the course. So far he has raised over £2000 towards SSAFA's work supporting our Forces and their families.

This hardcore event, which takes place on 8 September 2013 in Yorkshire, is a demanding sprint obstacle race, designed to push participants to their limit. Organisers of the race describe it as “an event of pure primitive craziness”. James plans to tackle the course with every thing he has got, changing his blades and carrying his ‘stubbie’ feet to adapt to the unknown and difficult terrain along the way.

James was injured whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2009, when he stepped on and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). He lost both of his legs just above the knee and received significant damage to his arms.

Following his life changing injuries, James has undergone significant medical treatment and rehabilitation, during which time both him and his family have stayed at the SSAFA Norton Homes.

James explains, “When I was first flown back to the UK and receiving treatment at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, my parents stayed at the Norton House in Selly Oak for almost two months. Once I was transferred to Headley Court, me and my parents both stayed at the Norton House in Ashtead, Surrey, which is right near the Defence Rehabilitation Centre.”

The contact that James had with SSAFA highlighted that there was practical support available, as he began to adjust to his new circumstances.

“It was handy to have somewhere to stay and feel looked after, especially when driving back and forward from my home town in Yorkshire.

“This was so important to me and my family in the early days of my treatment and even more so recently, when I’ve had to attend out-patient appointments at Headley Court. It can be a long way to travel for a half-day appointment but the Norton House means that the journey is more manageable; I can stay at Norton House either before or after the appointment.”

The principles that are at the very heart of what SSAFA does quickly stood out to James, “My family has served in the military since the First World War and I like the fact that SSAFA has been around since then and will help anyone who has been involved in any conflict, whether they are a Falkland’s or D-Day veteran. The support they give to families is especially important; it’s a very inclusive charity.”

He plans to complete the Spartan Sprint doing “whatever it takes”, making sure each and every step is his own, from beginning to end. He also sees the race as being a great opportunity to give something back to those who helped and supported him from the moment he was injured, right up to today.

“I’ve stayed at the SSAFA Norton House many times in the last three years, had endless free cups of tea, got to know the staff really well and been brilliantly supported. It would be nice to know that those who are going to need the same support as I’ve had, both now and in the future, can rely on SSAFA and the Norton Homes. This is why I’ve chosen to fundraise for them, so that they can use the money raised to continue their work."

To support James and SSAFA text 'GRIT86 £5' to 70070 or donate online at his fundraising page.