Mark Ormrod 2017 Invictus Games Toronto Canada Indoor Rowing Credit Danny Lawson/PA Archive/PA Images
Royal Marines

Absolute Legends: Why Triple Amputee Mark Ormrod Is Known To His Children As Iron Man

"I died in the back of that helicopter and so I know how quick things can change and how quick it can all be over."

Mark Ormrod 2017 Invictus Games Toronto Canada Indoor Rowing Credit Danny Lawson/PA Archive/PA Images

Picture Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Archive/PA Images

Mark Ormrod became Britain's first triple amputee to survive the Afghanistan conflict when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) outside his Forward Operating Base in Helmand Province on Christmas Eve, 2007.

He was told he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, and since then, he has gone on to become a husband, a father of three, a motivational speaker, a sponsored athlete and some say, an absolute legend.

Forces Radio BFBS' Web Editor Laura Skitt asked Mark if he thinks of himself in that way.

"Do I consider myself a legend? Not really, I’m just a bottom of the rung regular bloke from Plymouth who had a few issues in his life but cracked on with things instead of whinging about it.

"I died in the back of that helicopter and so I know how quick things can change and how quick it can all be over."

Mark's incredible motivation and his work as a speaker and athlete has not gone unnoticed. There has been considerable media and public interest around the story of his spirit of enterprise, determination and positive attitude in the face of life-changing hurdles and challenges.

He told the story of how his life changed to Forces Radio BFBS breakfast co-hosts Richard Hatch and Verity Geere, in an emotive interview in which he told how he lost both his legs and his right arm in Afghanistan.

British Forces News also picked up his story on May 23, 2008, speaking to Flight Lieutenant Marcus Eyers from 99 Squadron who told of the day he and his colleagues flew Mark back to the UK for treatment at Selly Oak hospital.

"On Christmas Day we picked up a Marine who lost two legs and an arm… we hear he’s doing quite well...

"He was in quite a mess on the back of the aeroplane and that brings it into focus what the guys are actually doing out there...”

But it is in the interview with Richard and Verity that Mark shows some of the strength of character that has made him the inspirational man that he is today. The kind of ordeal he has endured would be enough to break anyone but Mark told of his overwhelming sense of gratitude that drives him. 

Talking of his medical evacuation to Camp Bastion and how it changed his life he said: 

"I died in the back of that helicopter and so I know how quick things can change and how quick it can all be over.

"I appreciate life a lot more now. I have a huge... attitude of gratitude and I'm just grateful for everything."

His determination shone through too, when, in May 2008, Royal Marines from 40 Commando were awarded their campaign medals following the six-month tour of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province on Operation Herrick 7.

It was during that campaign that Mark suffered his life-changing wounds, after stepping on and triggering an IED.

However, following months of arduous physiotherapy, Mark was determined to stand up from his wheelchair and walk to receive his campaign medal. 

As well as making a national name for himself as a speaker and sporting athlete, Mark has earned several awards at the Invictus Games, including the Exceptional Performance Award, presented by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and gone on to earn an honorary degree from Plymouth University in sports science.

Such is his legendary status, he has been immortalised in artwork by artist Ben Dearnley, in a work named Undefeated, which is a statue of the Royal Marine’s torso and which has been unveiled in London and which will go on display at a gallery Pall Mall in November.

Mark never hesitates to take opportunities as and when they present themselves. This has led to a vibrant and varied life full of public speaking, training for the Invictus Games and being a father to his three children.

He says his children are the ones who keep him motivated.

"... the thing that really drives me forward is thinking of how it would affect my kids if I gave up, sat back, got lazy and just coasted through life instead of working hard and challenging myself whilst simultaneously doing my best to build a good life for them like a normal, able bodied father would.

"I want them growing up being proud of me and not embarrassed."

Mark is able to see the silver lining of his situation, a quality that many others might have struggled to see if they had been faced with similar challenges.

His ordeal may have changed his life but he has made the best of his experience since his injuries, using his story as an opportunity to become an author after writing about his mental focus and motivation.

He is now on his second book, following the success his first, Man Down, described as a "moving, action-packed account of courage and comradeship, of life on the frontline and the terrible legacy of war."

"Life is crazy now. There are so many opportunities that have come out of this bad situation."

Training has been an integral part of Mark's remarkable rehabilitation. In 2015, he featured in Men's Health magazine to discuss how being a triple amputee does not get in the way of his workouts.

He also revealed that he uses 300 per cent more energy than someone without prosthetics so he has to eat twice as often to keep up the energy levels needed.

In 2016, Forces TV's Rebecca Ricks spoke to Mark about how going to the gym has helped his recovery.

"Training was a huge anchor for me when I was going through my rehab. It's really what helped turn things around for me and gave me a real focus."

Mark has been working with former Royal Marine, turned film-maker, Matt Elliott to produce a full-length documentary showing his incredible journey since that fateful night in 2007.

"When I was lying in a hospital bed, because I was the UK's first triple amputee from Afghan, I had a lot of questions that no one could answer for me.

"I had a lack of motivation and I didn't see a way ahead and I know that there are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of people going through that now.

'I hope that by making this documentary I can provide some answers."

The documentary will cover Mark joining the Royal Marines at 16 and going to Iraq at 19. He left the Marines in 2006 to train as a bodyguard and felt that he was failing as a civilian when that career path did not work out. The documentary will cover his eventual return to the Royal Marines and how he has no regrets.

His time in Selly Oak hospital will also be covered plus his long recovery during which he could have lost all hope but his determination not to live life on the sidelines kept him going.

Mark's biggest motivation in life, however, is three children - Kezia, 12, from a previous relationship, and Mason and Evelyn, 3, with his wife Becky with whom he tied the knot in 2009.

His children call him Iron-Man because of his high-tech prosthetic legs.

Watch the teaser trailer for documentary #noLIMBits below...

Mark was also a social media sensation earlier this year after he condemned what he called “far right, racist, hate inducing douche bags” who used an image of him to promote a controversial internet meme criticising an Islamic preacher.

Mark’s subsequent post, following the meme, went viral after he distanced himself from the creators of the content and pleaded with the public to show “common sense” and realise it was nothing to do with him.

He has, however, turned to the internet to promote his work. In May, Mark uploaded a video blog to his YouTube channel entitled "We’re FINALLY Finished... I Think" thanking everyone for their patience during the making of his documentary #noLIMBits.

The last filming location was the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines at Lympstone in Devon where Mark and Matt filmed Royal Marine recruits training and pushing themselves to their limit.

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