Military Paralympian John James ‘JJ’ Chalmers was serving with the Royal Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2011 when he suffered life-changing injuries from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast. He lost two fingers, suffered facial and leg injuries and his right elbow was badly damaged.
Having undergone facial reconstruction and surgery on his left eye and both legs, JJ spent time at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House, and went on to compete at the 2012 Invictus Games. There he won medals in cycling and on the track. He says, “Being part of a team and representing my country was something I thought I’d lost forever. It was the greatest week of my life.”
After getting a glimpse into the world of media and broadcasting at the Invictus Games and watching the Paralympics at London 2012, JJ decided to pursue a career in presenting.
“The athletes I’ve had the opportunity to interview over the years, whether it be established Paralympic athletes who took part in 2012 or the lads coming through from Help for Heroes, are unbelievable. Watching the London 2012 Paralympics made me proud to be disabled. My recovery has shown me the world is full of truly awesome people. It’s my dream and ambition to have the opportunity to tell their stories.”
JJ has gone on to present National Paralympic Day for Channel 4 as well as an online show for the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha. Now, four years on from being inspired by the Invictus and Paralympic Games, will be presenting again for Channel 4 – this time on their coverage of this year’s Paralympics in Rio.
“Being a Royal Marine Commando was the greatest job in the world. My next career needed to be something I love doing and would make me want to get out of bed in the morning. It’s got to be something that makes me want to give everything I’ve got and presenting is that.”
Photo © Roger Keller | Help for Heroes