Motivational speaker Andy Grant is supporting Edge Hill’s Feel Good February programme and shared his inspirational story of overcoming loss and adversity this week, urging staff and students to “never shy away from making a positive change in your life.”
From losing his mother to leukaemia aged just 12, to joining the Royal Marines, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, to suffering a life-changing injury and consequently facing life as an amputee, Andy has overcome hardship time and time again.
Speaking to staff and students, Andy said: “You don’t need to be blown up in Afghanistan to have faced adversity and overcome it. Losing my mum at such a young age really shaped me and I remember thinking that if I could overcome losing her, I could overcome anything. I know almost everyone has gone through moments like this in their lives, moments that challenge them and shape who they are.”
As a Royal Marine, Andy was put through the hardest selection process in the UK, developing lifelong skills and building his mental and physical resilience. He credits his training with giving him the ‘commando ethos’ to be the best you can be, work well in a team and adapt to any situation.
“The Royal Marines taught me that with the right mindset and attitude you can achieve anything you put your mind to.” Andy added. “I learnt to always hold yourself to the highest personal standards, to have humility and not be selfish. I learnt so much and I always carry those lessons with me in day to day life.”
At just 20 years old, Andy was critically injured by the detonation of two IEDs in Helmand Province. He suffered 27 separate injuries and spent the next 18 months in various hospitals recovering and learning to live with his injuries.
Sadly, the wounds to Andy’s right leg didn’t heal as hoped and he was faced with a life changing decision – whether to have his leg amputated. After time spent speaking with surgeons and his family, he had made his decision and in November 2010, aged only 22, he had his right leg amputated, just below the knee.
“The decision to have my leg amputated was huge. I remember the day before thinking that it was the last day, I’d ever have two feet and ten toes. Ultimately though it was a decision I had to make to improve my quality of life. At times, everyone has to make huge, life changing decisions and it can be difficult to face that fact, never shy away from making a positive change in your life.”
Andy found that having his leg amputated improved his quality of life drastically and opened a whole world of possibilities. He now spends his time traveling around the country talking about his experiences, a life beyond injury and sharing how he continues to overcome adversity.
Not only that, but Andy started running, going on to compete in the first Invictus Games and went on to become the world’s fastest single leg amputee in the world over 10km by clocking a time of 37:17 and climbed some of the world’s highest mountains.
Now aged 24, he is war veteran, a former Royal Marine Commando, a father, partner and motivational speaker.
Andy said: “Although what I’ve been through is unique, the problems and adversities we all face in our daily lives are very similar. Just look at the recent lockdowns. I found the first two difficult and I know millions of others have too. It’s okay to have down days but we’ve got to be ready to pick ourselves up and overcome whatever life throws at us. For me I decided to change what I was doing in lockdown by speaking to friends more often and sticking to a regular routine. Even a small change like that was enough to clear my head.”
Andy’s talk was part of Feel Good February which gives students and staff access to over thirty events, resources and self-help guides all aimed at supporting wellbeing and helping them stay motivated. Descriptions and information on how to sign up for all the events can be found on this dedicated resource.
Listen to Deputy Vice Chancellor Steve Igoe about why this programme has never been more needed and how he is encouraging staff and students to take full advantage of the many sessions on offer.
If you’re a student and need advice and support for your wellbeing, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a member of staff, the wellbeing and development team are available by email StaffWellbeingAndDevelopment@edgehill.ac.uk to provide support.