Mark applied to join the Royal Marines at 16 years old after finishing his GCSE’s and wanting a career in the military. After successful completion of the Potential Royal Marines Course (PRMC), he began training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in February 2001 at the age of 17. After completing the grueling 30 week course and being awarded the coveted green beret, he embarked on his career as a Royal Marines Commando. After various exercise and deployments, including Iraq in 2003, he decided to leave the Marines for personal reasons and embark on new career.
After leaving the military and undertaking a Close Protection course in South Africa, Mark was keen to start a new career as a bodyguard, but because he lived in Plymouth and was always around the guys he had served with, the bug to go on more deployments with the lads was too much and he decided to rejoin after only a year as a civilian. No sooner had he rejoined then he was drafted to 40 Cdo RM and was straight into training serials for the upcoming deployment in Afghanistan, Op Herrick 7. The unit deployed in September 2007 and Mark was based with the men of 40 Cdo to Forward Operating Base Robinson.
On Christmas Eve 2007, whilst out on a foot patrol, Mark stepped on a buried landmine which resulted in him having to have both of his legs amputated above the knee and his right arm amputated above the elbow, making him the first British triple amputee from the Afghanistan conflict.
After his initial recovery, Mark made the decision that there was no point in feeling sorry for himself and he had to accept his situation. He wanted to take things as far as he could and regain as much independence as he possible... So the journey began.
Because he was Afghanistan’s first British triple amputee, it was difficult for him to find people he could talk to and draw from their experience. Mark decided to travel to America where he hoped to meet up with other amputees, who had been living that way for much longer, and learn from them.
Whilst in the States Mark, was introduced to a whole new world of peer support, mentoring, disability education and levels of independence that he didn’t know existed. This spurred him on to learn more, train harder and hopefully when he was good enough, pass what he had learnt to others in the same situation he was in. Since meeting other amputees and discovering what is possible Mark has learned to drive a car without hand controls, run with specialist prosthetics, swim, gain a higher level of confidence and independence with his prosthetics and hasn’t used a wheelchair since June 2009. He continues to return to the States as he hungers to continue learning about his prosthetics and what they are capable of and he says:
“After all, this is my life now, of course I take an interest in it, these are my legs now and they are a part of me, I want to know as much about them as possible”
After gaining a certain level of independence with his prosthetics and leaving his wheelchair behind, he decided that he needed another goal that would push him a bit harder so that life without a wheelchair would seem a lot easier, that was when he decided to run across America from New York to L.A for charity.
Mark was part of a team of both British military and American military men who embarked on a journey of over 3500 miles to raise awareness and money for injured troops charities in the UK and USA. The men running had to cover between 16-23 miles a day EACH for 63 days and although Marks part wasn’t as big he managed to start at a mile a day and build up to a point where on the Royal Marines Birthday he managed to run 5 miles continuously in honour of the Royal Marines.
Whilst going through rehabilitation Mark wrote a book called “Man Down” about his life before, during and slightly after losing three limbs as he wanted to express himself as honestly and openly as he could, not just for himself, but to also give a better insight for others about daily life in a war zone and dealing with going from being a 24 year old Elite Royal Marine Commando to now being a 24 year old disabled person.
Whilst nearing the end of his military career and struggling with ideas of what he could do for employment as a disabled person, he decide to have a go at motivational speaking. After being introduced to it and trained on how to present himself he did a few small visits and talks, most notably including his old school which he had left 10 years previously and Middlesborough Football club, whilst they were training out in Spain.