In April 2017, Ed Jackson broke his neck.
The rugby player's professional career was over and doctors believed he would never walk again.
In the intervening years, Jackson has not only walked – he has climbed Mount Snowden and the highest trekking peak in Nepal.
Before coronavirus struck, Jackson had planned to walk the Pennine Way for charity, an ambition that may be on hold but will certainly be fulfilled.
Lockdown? Lockdown is hardly a challenge.
As Jackson notes, "It was only three years ago when I had to spend nearly four months in hospital, and almost a year in a wheelchair and my house."
Think on those words next time you're feeling a little stir-crazy.
Jackson is a truly inspirational man, and the below interview makes for invigorating reading.
Stay strong in there.
What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?
I was supposed to be off to Japan to present on the Paralympics which unfortunately has been cancelled but still really excited about that next year.
More immediately, when normality returns, I am going to “Walk The Spine” – all 268miles of the Pennine Way in support of Wings For Life who fund spinal cord injury research.
I’m teaming up with Berghaus and encouraging as many people to join us for as much or as little of it as they wish with the aim of highlighting the impact that the great outdoors and exercise can have on physical and mental health.Lord knows we’re going to need some fresh air by then!
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Signing my first professional contract as a 17 year old was a pretty special moment.
More recently it was making a dream of mine to start the Millimetres to Mountains foundation a reality and running our first major fundraising trip to Nepal.
I have had amazing support from people in my life and the fact that I can now pay that forward to others feels great.
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
I’ve learnt never to look backwards or have regrets so I wouldn't change a thing about my rugby career, besides I really enjoyed it.
I’m very new to the world of media and as broadcaster I have a huge amount still to learn but I’m lucky to be working with some seriously experienced and talented people at Chanel 4 so just trying to sponge of them.
What would I change though…hmm… Well from what I’ve seen so far I have to say that the on-set biscuit selection could improve, it’s not terrible but the odd Jammy Dodger or Penguin would be nice. Or is a Penguin a cake? [SM: It's definitely a biscuit.]
What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?
- I would like to turn our charity into a legacy that lives long after I’m gone.
- Become a respected broadcaster (i.e. get good at it!).
- Become the first quadriplegic to summit Everest.
Outside of your family, who is / was your biggest inspiration?
Many people have inspired me throughout my life and the last couple of years in particular have thrown up a few characters that I have learnt a great deal from.
I don’t try and emulate anyone in particular and believe there is inspiration everywhere so I stay open to it and try and pick up as much as I can along the way.
I have to say though that my last couple of trips to Nepal have been pretty special in that respect.
Tell us something nobody knows about you…
I used to play the saxophone so badly that my teacher actively encouraged me to stop. Obviously I persisted to the distain of my family. Fortunately for them due to reduced hand function following the accident their ears are safe once more.
How are you finding lockdown?
It’s obviously a strange time but in a weird way I’m used to long periods of isolation. It was only three years ago when I had to spend nearly four months in hospital and almost a year in a wheelchair and my house following a broken neck.
I learnt to just focus on the things I can effect and not worry about the things I cant so I’m enjoying taking advantage of some of this extra time but I’m not going to lie a beer garden with my mates would be nice right now.
Best thing about lockdown?
Being able to not have to worry about tomorrow. I’ve now caught up on everything I ‘had’ to do and having nothing new coming in and no plans on the horizon is allowing me to stay present.
I’m enjoying cracking on with writing my book and having plenty of time to train for Walk The Spine. A few too many bottles of wine on a 'school night’ is a luxury but one that needs to be kept in check... (sketchy eyes).
Worst thing about lockdown?
Nothing better than a long walk and a pub lunch…enough said.
Top tip for surviving lockdown?
By all means enjoy this time to now and again spend the day in your pants, complete Netflix and eat ice cream but I certainly know I need a balance. Having no structure is great at first, like being on holiday, the difference is though having no plans on holiday is, ironically, planned.
If you’re feeling a bit lost or anxious re-introduce some structure and start to take some control back. For example if you're working from home get dressed in the morning, take a lunch break and even have a little whinge about your boss to the wall, it all helps retain some normality.