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Focus on Military

Andy Barlow GB para alpine skier

The editor of our magazine, Geraldine McCool was reunited again with Andy Barlow at the Fusiliers Gala Ball last year and it’s a story she is only too happy to revisit.

Andy was one of our clients in the Kajaki Dam incident in 2006 and I first met him at the inquest in Oxford several years later.

Andy was 19 years old at the time of the incident in which he lost his leg and was awarded the George Medal for Gallantry in helping his colleagues in the minefield.

The story was such an inspirational one that it was turned into a film, set during the war in Afghanistan, which told the heroic tale of British soldiers embarking on a mission to save their trapped comrades.

I clearly recall the red carpet premier of ‘Kajaki, The True Story’ at Leicester Square and wondering who the character Ken was. My guest, Mark Hookham, Defence Correspondent of The Sunday Times had to point out that ‘Ken’ was Andy’s nickname thanks to his surname which is the same as the legendary Coronation Street character.

Andy took part in our private screening of the film together with the BAFTA nominated producers and other members of Pukka Films. We spoke about the film and his nickname and after that night, whenever our paths cross Andy is always positive and full of news, adventure and hope for the future which helps to explain his new passion, skiing.

Andy has just returned from Stowe, Vermont where he picked up two gold medals representing Team GB.

Skiing Is Believing

I knew that Andy had started skiing but did not appreciate how much he had achieved. Andy is now a member of the Armed Forces Para Snowsports team and I caught up with him just before he flew out to Kimberley for the World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals.

We had a chat about his goals and our Don’t Quit, Do It campaign, which aims to get more people playing, watching and supporting disability sport than ever before.

Andy started skiing in the Army after his injury and in 2012 attended the Army Ski Championships in Meribel. Here he competed against both able and disabled soldiers, bringing home gold in the British disabled skiing category.

As a timid skier who cannot master a green run, I am in awe of the technical mastery of his sport as he careers with control down slalom after slalom.

In the next edition we will bring news of Andy’s training and races and we’ll share more about his challenges, achievements and future goals when the skiing season ends.

Published: May 2018

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