The February edition of General Talk features Corie Mapp, former Lance Corporal in the Life Guards, Afghan veteran and reigning European Champion in Para Bobsleigh. In a captivating interview, Corie, who was born and raised in Barbados, tells host Harry Bucknall about his Army career, the challenges he faced after becoming a double amputee and how sport helped him overcome his life changing injuries.
Corie wanted to join the British Amy, at the age of six, after his uncle took him to see Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
He began his career as a police officer in the Royal Barbados Police Force, before joining the Barbados Defence Force, as a soldier. But in 2005, to satisfy his overwhelming desire to go on operations, he applied to join the British Army and enlisted in the Life Guards, and was posted to the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment at Knightsbridge Barracks.
“There’s no feeling like riding out to escort Her Majesty. I was the first Barbadian to do it … my mother was so proud.”
Later, Corie trained as a driver of Scimitar CVR(T) and deployed with the Household Cavalry to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009.
Speaking of his time in Afghanistan, he said: “We liberated a lot of villages from the tyranny of the Taliban: farmers started farming again, kids were able to go to school again and we generally gave people a good quality of life again.”
But on 31st January 2010, his armoured vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device (IED) and the next thing he remembers was waking up in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Selly Oak, Birmingham, not realising he was a double amputee.
“The lowest moment for me was when I took my first shower on my own. I saw blood running off me, then I looked down at my legs and completely broke. I sobbed uncontrollably.”
The nurse who helped Corie get into the shower reassured him that he was going to be OK and to boost his spirit reminded him that his three daughters were going to visit him in the evening.
That day was a turning point in Corie’s recovery, especially after his middle daughter told him that he was going to be fine, that he was going to get replacement legs and teach her and her sisters to ride again.
“I felt that if they could see me as no different a man, then I had no reason not to fight. From that day I never looked back. I started using fitness and sport as a motivational tool.
“I don’t regret going to Afghanistan. I don’t regret losing my legs in a sense, because I found out more about myself having lost them, but I do regret the withdrawal from the country because it was like ripping a plaster off – it hurt.”
The wide-ranging conversation covers his varied and vast achievements as a Para Bobsleigh athlete, his role, in Wiltshire, as a police community support officer and his plan to become a regular police officer,
“I am looking forward to doing wonderful things with Wiltshire Police. Life has taught me that the only person stopping you from doing something is yourself.”
Corie Mapp’s memoir, Black Ice, was recently published by Nine Elms Books.