Warrant Officer John Kirk has been through more than most.
Having cheated death twice, his is a story of grit and determination.
In 2010 John discovered he had cancer in his right arm which had spread to his lungs.
Initially, the medics said they'd give him chemotherapy and a shoulder replacement; this was news he was delighted to receive- he told us “two weeks before that, I’d been planning my funeral”.
Sadly, four weeks later the tumour had grown so much in John's arm he had no choice but to have it amputated:
“Even though I lost my arm, ever since the tumour went, my spirits were raised”.
The chemotherapy got rid of the tumours in his lungs and the following year John, who was already a keen skier, took up a place he'd been offered on a military ski instructors course.
Although he’d applied for the course prior to losing his arm, he was the first amputee to do it, and skiing presented new challenges:
“When I’m turning to the left, and my right leg is the outside ski, I have to over exaggerate, and sometimes the shapes I pull are quite strange!”
By 2015 John's skiing was on fine form, but tragically he got into an accident whilst training in Austria:
“I was 28th in the world for disabled downhill, but in Austria I had an accident of some sort that left me in a coma.”
John was in a coma for three weeks, and he spent 5 weeks at the QEHB before moving on to Headley Court for rehabilitation.
Despite this, nothing was going to stop him getting back on the slopes.
By 2016 he was in Meribel as a spectator, and last year he competed for the first time since his accident. He told us:
“There’s no point coming out of the start gate if you don’t want to win.”
Sadly, this time it wasn’t to be, but John remains positive:
“Ever since I had cancer eight years ago, every day’s a bonus- so it takes a lot to make me depressed or unhappy about things!”