A Huddersfield army veteran who lost his right leg after he was shot in Afghanistan has just completed a 150-mile challenge carrying a huge weight on his back.
James Cairns has walked the miles throughout July and completed the last eight with a trek around Huddersfield town centre, Milnsbridge and part of Huddersfield Narrow Canal with serving and former soldiers.
The event is called the Weighted Walk, organised by the forces charity Help For Heroes, and all carried 35kg (5.5 stones) on their backs which was the equivalent to a typical army kit soldiers have to carry. James also took his one-year-old son, Arthur, along in his pushchair.
It’s the latest in a series of gruelling fundraisers and challenges 34-year-old James has done over the years, including climbing Ben Nevis, walking along Hadrian’s Wall and doing a charity bike ride from Edinburgh to London.
For the July walk challenge he set out to raise £150 for Help For Heroes to help veterans struggling with their mental health, but has already reached almost £450.
James, who lives with partner Hannah Wild in Honley, said: “It’s so important to raise money for Help For Heroes as the work they do with veterans is vital.”
James was serving with the 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment in infantry reconnaissance when he was shot in the lower right leg by a Taliban sniper on October 31, 2011 – Halloween.
The bullet went through both his tibula and fibula and he underwent many operations to try to save it but the nerve damage was so bad in the end his leg was amputated two years later in 2013.
“The prosthetic limb means I’m now far more mobile,” said James. “In a way it gave me a new lease of life.”
James, who attended Newsome High School, worked in the parts department at Perrys car dealership in Huddersfield for a year before he joined the army, serving from 2007 to 2015.
James goes to Tommy’s Lounge café on Station Street in Huddersfield town centre every week which was set up primarily for armed forces veterans.
“It’s such a great places with a brilliant vibe,” said James. “There’s nowhere else like it.”
He completed the final eight miles of his July challenge from the café and then returned there afterwards. He did it with serving and former soldiers who are also doing the weighted challenge including Major Simon Patrick, MBE; Regimental Sgt Major Steve Greenwood, Company Sgt Major Tom Russell, Sgt Killian Cassidy and veterans Dan Pearce and Steve Puskovic.
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.