Determined Josh Landmann vows to live his life to the full
Josh Landmann was like any young man on holiday on a sunkissed island, living life to the full.
The 20-year-old was at a villa party close to the resort of San Antonio in Ibiza when he decided to dive into a pool to cool off.
It was something all of us will have done when on holiday. Except for Josh it had life-changing consequences.
The pool was unmarked and poorly lit, he hit his head on the bottom, fracturing C6 and compressing C7 vertebrae in his neck.
It left him unable to feel anything below his chest and he was rushed to hospital.
He was later airlifted to nearby Majorca for major surgery.
But today, three years on from the accident, after undergoing endless rehab sessions, the now 23-year-old has become a poster boy for anyone else whose life has been irrevocably changed by every holidaymaker’s worst nightmare.
After completing various challenges including the Blackpool 10k and becoming a YouTube star with his efforts on a Tough Mudder course, he has now scaled the top of Mount Snowdon in Wales with the help of his trusty sidekick, dad Neil, and an army of helpers.
And he isn’t slowing down –taking on a triathlon next month, the London Marathon next year and eyeing the 2022 Paralympics where he aims to take part in the downhill slalom.
Former Rossall School pupil Josh, from Knott End, says: “I was only really going to do one challenge but it has spiralled into all of these different things.
“Time is not going to go back.
“I can’t rewind to not jumping in the pool. You have to make the most of it and that’s what I plan to do and take the opportunities that come my way.”
Three years on, Josh admits he still occasionally thinks about the accident.
“I was thinking about it the other day actually,” he says.
“I remember it briefly. I smacked my head on the bottom and swam to the side. I tried to get out but I couldn’t move my legs. I just thought it was a bit of shock - I thought I would be OK in a few minutes. But that wasn’t the case. I was put on steroids so don’t remember much.
“You go from being down, thinking you have ruined your life and not being sure what I am going to do.
“But then you think more positively and you just have to get on with it.”
His latest challenge involved climbing the 1,085m high Mount Snowdon via the Llanberis Path.
The race involved scaling the highest peak in Wales in the fastest time on three wheels, with the help of a team of walkers pulling his wheelchair to the top.
It was in aid of the Back Up Trust, a charity which was set up to transform the lives of anyone affected by spinal cord injury and inspiring them to get the best out of life.
“There are 13 teams with 10-16 people in each team and you have a race up and race down,” says Josh.
“There are checkpoints on the way up.“You have to raise £3,000 to be able to take part.
“This year all the teams raised £80,000 between them.
“The weather was amazing for it and it was a great experience. I had a special larger front wheel and fitted off road tyres, various ropes were tied to the chair so people could haul me up and a push handle was fitted at the back. I had a lot of input steering which was quite tricky although I couldn’t push as much as I’d have liked but it was still really tough on my core and shoulders.
“It took us about five hours in total, two hours and 48 minutes up and around two hours down.
“On some sections they had to physically lift me and the chair to get me up large stepped sections. Anyone who’s been up Snowdon will know it’s not a smooth path and it’s tough just walking it and they were shifting 80kg up a mountain too!”
Josh was with nine friends in San Antonio when on July 20 2014 he jumped into the pool, hitting his head on the bottom.
He swam to the side of the pool but when he tried to climb up the ladder to get out of the pool, his legs wouldn’t work.
He was given emergency treatment by a doctor who was also at the party.
He was left unable to feel or move his legs for three weeks after the accident.
Josh was admitted to ICU at Son Espaces hospital in Majorca undergoing surgery on his neck three days later in a five hour operation and a further two weeks in intensive care before he was fit enough to return to the UK.
Surgeons removed the fractured vertebrae, replacing it with bone from his hip and pinning it all with a titanium plate to keep it all in place.
Josh was flown home to Blackpool and taken to the Royal Preston Hospital where he spent weeks before being transferred to the specialist spinal injury unit at Southport and Ormskirk General hospital where his rehabilitation began.
Remarkably, dad Neil said Josh was one of the lucky ones.
Speaking at the time, he said: “Medics on the islands see these things come in a lot. While Josh was in hospital three people came in who hadn’t been quite as fortunate.
“An Italian lad had dived off a boat on to rocks and is fully paralysed.
“Even though it’s a terrible situation, we are extremely fortunate, we still feel lucky. If his injury had been a few millimetres higher he could have been totally paralysed or worse.”
Josh’s recovery - both physical and mental - is still an ongoing process but his remarkable determination shines through.
He was paralysed below the chest but after months of gruelling physiotherapy and rehab, he now has some use of his legs.
He knows he is unlikely to ever return to full mobility but his transformation is clearly visible from a young man to para-athlete, his muscular physique the rewards of his punishing sessions at GymEtc in Poulton.
“I can only really do so much on my legs but my upper body strength is there.
“I may need to use the wheelchair a lot more as I get older and prepare myself for that.
“I go to the gym twice a day and have personal training sessions with (AFC Fylde striker) Matthew Blinkhorn twice a week, as well as physio sessions with Jamie Murphy at JAM Physio who I have been with since the accident. As soon as I came out of hospital I was working with him and he’s been fantastic. A lot of it is about core activation, sit ups, planks and deep tissue massage.
“Legs-wise, I haven’t improved for a good few months now. My strength has improved but not my condition.
“I have good days but also use crutches because I still get a lot of pain in my hips when I walk.
“I can walk 10 metres then start to get pain and it’s not good for my joints.
“I wish I could play rugby again and it can get you down at times.
“I’m not likely to get back to where I was. It’s a bit depressing but from what’s come from it, it’s a bad situation made better.”
Find out more about Josh and make donations to support spinal research and his sporting hopes at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/joshua-landmann-ChallengeMe