Joe Humphrey

A former Royal Marines Commando. He served twice in Afghanistan with 42 Commando RM before being medically discharged. Since leaving the military, he has gone on to be an athlete, elite health and fitness coach and outdoors instructor. A keen surfer, diver and adventurer. He continues to serve, as often as he can with a charity that operates in disaster zones around the world. And often on very short notice. He is comfortable in any extreme environment, but favours the harsh, cold winter weather. Someone has to!

What was the path that lead you to today?

I was always active as a kid, going out and coming home when the street lamps came on in the evening, often with cuts and grazes to explain to my parents. I was the kid that, if an adult told you not to go somewhere because it’s unsafe or too far away, I’d have to then go there to find out why. And I’d always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to serve in the military. I joined up when I was 18, and served in the Royal Marines for over 8 years. As a Royal Marines Commando, we’re trained to operate in all climates and terrain, be it jungle, arctic, desert, mountains. This is what drew me to the corps. On my 2nd tour of Afghanistan, I was shot by a sniper and had my leg amputated. To keep myself at the level I used to operate at as a Royal Marines Commando, I dedicate my time to training in all aspects of fitness, mental performance and outdoors adventures, in myself and others.

Who inspired you to do what you do?

None of my family ever served in the military, so actually, I was inspired by them as I wanted to do something completely different from anything they had done before. Now though, all my comrades that have been injured or affected by combat in some way, and constantly endeavor to make themselves mentally and physically stronger and robust. If I’m having a bad day, I look at these legends and know If they can keep pushing forward, so can I.

What have been the biggest obstacles you have encountered?

Losing my leg is the biggest obstacle I have faced. Not only did I die for a few minutes on the operating table, I had to learn to walk again, lose the weight I gained sat in a wheelchair, regain my fitness and also, adapt to life outside of the Marines. But now I have a cool robot leg and I look awesome in a pair of shorts!

Biggest triumphs?

Earning the coveted Green Beret back in 2007, after over 8 months of Commando training still, to this day, remains my biggest triumph. It laid the foundation for every standard I hold myself to, and all the values I believe in. Also, winning medals at the 2015 Warrior Games as a disabled athlete.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

No plan survives first contact! Things will go wrong. You will fail sometimes. But adapting to new situations and learning from failure strengthens us, and this is how we evolve into capable, adventurous humans.

What are the things that help you get through each adventure and why?

A strong sense of humour, and it helps if everyone I’m with has this as well. Oh, and a cup of tea. can sit down, take a few minutes to have a breather then I’m ready to crack on again!

What scares you and how do you deal with fear?

Quitting scares me. I don’t mind if I fail at something, because I know that to get to the point of failure, I’d have given my best effort. But quitting, knowing I have more to give, and that others will see me as a quitter, frightens me.

Why is getting outdoors so important in modern life?

I think as television, computer games and social media become more common and accessible, The outdoor activities that we used to do as children are becoming a rarer occurrence. It’s easier to stay inside on the computer that to get your boots on and go into the woods. Taking every opportunity to get outside, in the fresh air, get muddy and go somewhere new, is the perfect antidote to our busy work lives. Learning to take care of yourself outside, without the safety blanket of wifi and coffee shops will likely improve other aspects of your life.

Which is your most unforgettable adventure and why?

In 2009, I had accumulated a lot of leave after my tour of Afghanistan. So me and 2 friends decided to pack nothing but hand luggage, and book a one way flight to South America. We were there for a few months, hitchhiking and finding new places. And 3 other friends joined us out there. We covered Chile, Peru and Bolivia, trekked the Inca Trail, mountain biked down the road of death, and explored the Atacama desert. We came back 3 months later, straight into work on Monday morning.

Who has been an unsung hero in your life?

My brothers. When I got shot, I had the easy job. I was getting my head down in a coma for 3 weeks in a nice comfortable bed. My family had the hard job, not knowing what would happen, seeing me at my worst. My brothers did an amazing job of keeping everyone thinking clearly and keeping morale high. Not just for me and my family, but the families of other injured lads in the hospital.

What's next for you?

I have a few things on the horizon. I’ve just got back from the Caribbean from relief efforts with Team Rubicon UK after Hurricane Irma and Maria. Now it’s flood season here in the UK, so I’m waiting for the call to go get stuck in with flood relief. And in January, I’m spending some time up in the Arctic circle on an expedition.

Do you have a motto you live by?

We all have strengths and weaknesses. But we’re also inclined to work on and practice, something we are already good at for fear of looking bad. Rather than working on what we need to.

So my motto is… ‘Work to improve your weaknesses, and eventually they will become your strengths.’