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Army veteran James Rose: "Losing both my legs changed my life for the better"

Point of View is an online ITV News series where we invite inspiring people to share their life experiences and what they've learned from them.

Meet James Rose.

A fan of football and his beloved Middlesbrough, an athlete and Invictus Games medal winner who's had his fair share of meeting royalty.

The army veteran has 'embraced' losing both legs at the age of 22 and says the life-changing event has given him the motivation to accomplish incredible things over the last decade.

So what's next? James is training to climb the highest mountain in Africa to raise money for mental health awareness.

James trains several times a week on different terrains for upcoming challenges Credit: James Rose

Joining the British Army was a dream since playing toy soldiers as a boy. James trained at Catterick, in North Yorkshire and was posted to Weeton Barracks in Lancashire.

James left for a tour of Afghanistan in September 2009. It was a trip he wasn't required to go on, but asked if he could. Stepping off the plane in Kandahar, he said the reality of the mission ahead aged him almost a decade in a matter of minutes.

Only a couple of months later, when on a routine patrol, he stepped on an IED, planted by the Taliban.

9 November 2009 changed James' life forever. He says, for the better.

James Rose served in the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire regiment at Catterick Credit: Family photo

After waking up at 0600 and completing the morning briefing session, James was sent on a routine patrol. He recalls the route was changed three times.

Approaching a point that required clearance to proceed, James said he felt in his stomach that something could go wrong. He was called upon to clear the route and after lifting up a branch, heard a metal plate click beneath his foot.

As a result of the IED blast, James suffered a broken pelvis and tail bone, as well as losing both legs above the knee. He said fellow soldiers 'slapped and punched' him to remain conscious before the Quick Reaction Force arrived.

At this point, James was confident he still had both of his legs.

  • James described the IED blast as feeling like a 'constant blowtorch' on his legs

Although James says most memories after November 9 are vague, he was flown back to the UK to be treated in Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham.

It wasn't until he woke up in intensive care that he actually noticed both legs had been amputated above the knee. At that moment, James said he knew this was his 'new normal'.

Several weeks later, James received a call inviting him to be treated at the Hedley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey. He said meeting other veterans in similar, or worse, conditions to his 'was a real eye-opener' which helped him deal with the path to recovery.

  • During his recovery in hospital, James was visited by Prince Charles

It doesn't just affect me, it affects everyone around me, especially my family. They had to come and see me like that. For me, it affects the family more.

– James Rose

James admits he struggled with his mental health at the beginning of his recovery and for three weeks, dealt with severe episodes of depression and anxiety. It was the support of his family and loved ones that enabled James to envision moving on with his life.

His wife Naomi Rose and son Jake Escritt play leading roles in his support system.

  • Wife Naomi Rose 'dropped everything' after Afghanistan blast

Although fitness was a huge part of James' life before leaving for war, it's even more important now. One of the main ways James tackles dark days is by forcing himself to complete a workout in the gym. He advises anyone suffering from mental health to try exercising, which makes him feel 'on top of the world'.

In 2018, James competed in the Invictus Games in Sydney for Team GB. His performance on the court in wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball helped the team bring home Silver and Bronze medals.

A second royal meeting, this time with Prince Harry, just felt like "chatting with one of the lads".

James competed for Team GB at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney Credit: Family photo
James' Invictus Games 2018 medals Credit: Family photo

James will set off to Tanzania for his next challenge with five team members in early September 2019 - ten years after he set off for Afghanistan.

He will be joined by Darren Young (Invictus Games Athlete and Fundraiser), Mel Young MSc (Strength and Conditioning Coach), Mark Burns, (ex-RAF Fire Service) and Lou Baptiste (documentary filmmaker).

The group are raising money to split between Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion charities.

James leaves for Tanzania on 8 September 2019. From everyone at ITV, we wish you all the best of luck.

  • Facts about Mount Kilimanjaro:
5,895 m
summit lies above sea level
205
miles from the equator, in the country of Tanzania.
30,000
people attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro every year (approximately)
89
American woman Anne Lorimor, was the oldest person to climb the mountain, in 2019.
James predicts the biggest challenge will be altitude sickness Credit: James Rose

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