AN INSPIRATIONAL borough fitness fanatic whose life was changed when a Taliban bomb almost killed him has completed a marathon 24-hour fitness challenge in aid of Care for Casualties.
It was September 16 2009 when John Loveday’s life almost ended as he and a group of army heroes came under intense Taliban fire and were just metres from an improvised explosive device when it was detonated.
At the time, John was in command of seven men – including one man by the name of Jack Otter, who lost three limbs during the terrifying bomb blast.
Despite suffering from a bleed to the brain and blast injuries to his left ear, John and his men helped the rifleman escape the danger and everyone left with their life intact.
Following the blast, John frequently suffered from flashbacks and nightmares – and struggled to find employment due to a lack of civilian recognised qualifications.
However, thanks to the help of Care for Casualties, the father-of-two is now back in employment and is writing his own story after successfully completing 44 press ups, 50 sit ups and a 1.5 mile run every hour for 24 hours.
In the process, John has also raised over £2,400 for the charity which raises funds to assist members of the Rifles Regimental family who were found to be in need.
Speaking to The Observer the keen boxer explained the moment his life almost ended while on patrol in Afghanistan.
He said: “I was approaching the end of my six month tour in Afghanistan and it had been tough.
“We were involved in daily clashes with Taliban forces and I was immersed in some of the fiercest fighting the British Army has seen to date.
“I was in command of seven men and on that day we had come under intense army fire from multiple enemy positions.
“My team and I were returning fire and we began to fight our way out of the kill zone.
“It was at this point an improvised explosive device detonated causing Jack to lose three limbs.
“I was blown from my feet and suffered a bleed to the brain and blast injuries to my left ear.
“I pulled myself up and extracted my team and Jack to safety, we saved Jack’s life – the incident has certainly shaped me into who I am today.”
John now works as CEO of Spearhead Compliance Training where has transferred his skills from his military career and he now employs 87 former soldiers.
The motivation to complete the 24-hour endurance challenge came when the 29-year-old approached Hampton Health & Fitness Club owner Gareth Thomas.
The Hampton Health Club works closely in supporting young people in their physical training preparations leading up to enrolment into the armed forces.
John observed this happening at the gym early on in the year and came up with the idea of completing the full basic military fitness test every hour for a continuous 24-hour period.
The Hampton-in-Arden resident started the event with Nathan Cribden, 21, for the first 15 hours before being joined by over 25 other gym members for the remainder of the course.
John event managed a sprint finish during his final push and said: “I wanted to challenge myself again while raising funds for a great cause.
“The event itself was tough and certainly pushed me to my limits but Paul, Gareth, Charlotte and Gary from the gym kept motivating me to finish the endurance event.
“Care for Casualties is The Rifles official charity and they do tremendous work.
“I personally struggled to find work after the incident due to a lack of civilian recognised qualifications – I suffered from flashbacks and nightmares on a regular basis, it was horrible.
“The charity helped me secure training to gain employment and really helped me get back on my feet again, I can’t thank them enough.”
Visit gofundme.com/veteranschallenge to support John’s challenge and help him hit the £2,500 mark.