Last year, my mother, my wife and my son all had major surgery, which made me think about how valuable the National Health Service (NHS) is to us. Then I saw a TV programme in which the presenter, motorcycle entrepreneur Henry Cole, met a blood bikes group. I found my local group, Derbyshire Blood Bikes, at an event in Crich and I signed up. I started riding for them in December 2016.
I’ve always been an outdoors, hunting type of person: shooting, fishing and all those things. My grandfather was a gamekeeper, so it runs in the family. I trained as a chef in Switzerland and I was given all the dirty jobs, from gathering herbs to collecting dead animals from farms and I loved it. I returned to Wales to care for a poorly family member, and I really got into the great outdoors. I trained in bushcraft and got all the qualifications, and now I run coastal bushcraft courses and forage walks, and give talks on wild coastal living. The courses I put on range from basic bushcraft to wild cooking.
My father-in-law was known as the Convoy Cowboy, after the village he came from in County Donegal. As far back as the early 1970s, he collected all the cowboy gear: the holster, guns, saddle – the lot. When I married into the family, I took up the hobby too.
I’ve always been interested in Japan and sword arts so in 2004 I started doing Kendo, which is the martial art where you wear protective armour with a grilled helmet. Then, around eight years ago, I started Iaido as well. I am now black belt 3rd dan (rank) in Kendo, and black belt 4th dan in Iaido.
I came to kickboxing very late; I’m 51 now and I started around five years ago. I was fairly typical for my age: a bit overweight and I had suffered a few injuries over the years playing rugby. I was a bit bored, really. I did try going to the gym but I didn’t enjoy it. A few doors along from that gym in Maidstone, Kent, is the TKO Kickboxing Academy. I popped in one day on the off-chance, was offered a free session and never looked back.
I was in the army years ago. I was just an ordinary soldier but, when it came to shooting, I discovered that no one could touch me. Then I got a disease in my eye that resulted in double vision and my scores went down, so I packed it in.
Around 15 years ago, just after I moved to Cleethorpes, my mum saw an ad in the local newspaper saying that the inshore lifeboat station was recruiting. I used to sail, so I went along and had an interview. The next thing I knew, I was in a dry suit and out at sea on the inshore lifeboat (ILB), since the first test was to see whether I had sea legs.
When I was at university, I was flying a stunt kite one day when a man came over and asked if I wanted to try a proper kite. It was a power kite, and the first time I tried it I was hooked.
My great-grandfather was a gamekeeper and my grandmother had a pheasant in a case in her house: it had the longest tail ever recorded for a Reeves’s pheasant. As a child I always admired it. There were also two short-eared owls, given to my grandfather on his return from war. I was fascinated by them, and that’s how I got into taxidermy.
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