Profession: Estate Agent Director
James was born into a family that was involved in unsavoury activities. He grew up in Bradford but eventually moved to York where he realised that he didn’t want to be part of that lifestyle but instead, wanted to make a success of his life. He studied Law and Criminology at University in Leeds and eventually set up a successful Estate Agency with his brother. Determined to live an honest, positive life, together, they run two branches of the company and James often gives lectures at Bradford University on how to run a successful business.
James was determined to succeed in the SAS: Who Dares Wins selection course so he could get to know himself better.
Tell me about your experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins?
It was the greatest and worst experience of my life. By far the hardest thing I have ever had to endure and yet, it was the only way to get to know who I really am.
Did you find it difficult?
Was it more difficult than you expected? It was the hardest physical and mental test of my entire life. I knew it would be hard but nothing can prepare you for it.
Were you surprised to find out this course was taking place in the home of the SAS – Scotland?
Yes, I had no idea that this is where they conduct the real selection. What an honour to have a taste of what they go through.
How did you cope with the harsh Scottish weather conditions? Did the weather conditions play a part in how hard you found the course?
The weather conditions and lack of sleep were the hardest things to endure. I was always wet, even in my sleeping bag, it consumes you after the first two days. You become cold and wet all the time.
Did spending so much time in freezing water make the course more difficult for you?
This was difficult at first but like all the punishment we endured, you learn to love it. The more you entered the freezing cold water, the easier it was.
You were the first recruits to take part in weapons training. How did you find that?
I was so privileged to be instructed by the best in the world. I loved this part of the series and yet it was my worst performance.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
At school in York we had what was called the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). This was basic military practice once a week. However, it was nothing like what we just experienced.
What made you sign up?
For the last 10 years I have been in control of every aspect of my life. I knew that it was a weakness to not experience being out of your comfort zone. I have always followed this programme and decided that for me to experience not being in control, the best platform to accomplish this would be on this programme.
What training did you do in preparation for this course?
I trained every morning at 6am on the fields with my friend. We followed the previous series and built our training model around this. I also trained at a local outdoor lake to experience open water swimming and the cold temperatures.
Now that you have this experience, would you like to join the real Special Forces?
No I wouldn’t. I have nothing but respect for those who have and will continue to do so.
What was the best part of the series for you?
Knowing what the human body can endure and keep going.
What was the hardest part of the series for you?
Sleep and food deprivation.
Were you surprised to find one of your ‘fellow recruits’ was a mole?
Absolutely! I was really shocked but could not be happier that it was Jay. He is an absolute legend.
Did getting to know Jay as a recruit make it difficult for you to have the same respect for him once he became one of the DS?
Not at all. I understood that he had represented his country at the highest possible level and had nothing but respect for him. I understood my place and respected him as a DS.
What were Ant, Foxy, Ollie, Billy and Jay like?
They were ruthless and intimidating from day one. However, as the days went by, they became more approachable and taught us lessons that I will never forget. I will happily have a beer with them all.
Would you ever do it again?