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Black Ice

Shortly after we went into the first lockdown last year, I received a call from Dubai from Damien Lipman, former Life Guards officer, who for four years was my commentator at the British Military Tournament. Would I be willing, he wanted to know, to assist another former Life Guard to write his memoirs: the person in question was called Corie Mapp. Up to that moment I had never heard of him, so I asked Damien to tell me more before I committed myself to anything. This is what he told me.

Corie Mapp, a Barbadian, joined The Life Guards in 2005, served at Knightsbridge until 2008, and was then posted to Windsor. In early 2010, on Operation HERRICK 11, he lost both his legs below the knee to an IED whilst driving a Scimitar armoured car on active operations. It was, I thought, a tragic but not altogether unusual story. However, there was more to come. Undeterred by his life-changing injuries, Corie had thrown himself into para-athletics whilst at Headley Court, competing with considerable success in seated volleyball at the first two Invictus Games, learned to play golf, competed (again with great success) in national disabled cricket, before being introduced to the hair-raising sport of para-bobsleigh.


Trooper Corie Mapp being inspected by Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Griffin on his Kit Ride Pass Off parade

Corie Mapp – World Champion

During his first ‘slide’ on a bobsleigh track in Calgary, Canada, it quickly became apparent to his coach that Corie was a ‘natural’, but no one could have foreseen that within two years he would win Gold in the 2014 World Cup competition, be crowned World Champion in 2018, and European Champion two years later. Not content with these achievements, in 2020 Corie set himself the challenge of returning to full-time work by joining the Wiltshire Police, while continuing to compete on the international para-bobsleigh circuit.

The story was irresistible and I immediately said that I could help. There was, however, a problem: under the rules of that first lockdown I couldn’t meet Corie, despite the fact that he lived only fifteen miles away from me. Nonetheless, I put in a call to him and, over the course of an hour-long conversation, we worked out a modus operandi. Our plan was this: Corie would give me an overview of his life story, which I would work up into a chapter structure; we would then have weekly four-hour sessions on the telephone, during which he would fill in the narrative for each chapter; I would transcribe this into prose, and then submit it to him by email for proofing and sign off. Our plan was to write a chapter a week and have the first draft completed within three months.

It was an ambitious plan, but it worked, although I quickly abandoned recording and auto-transcribing the calls, in favour of taking longhand notes. By the time we had finished the last chapter, I had filled a dozen A5 notebooks and we had a 60,000-word manuscript, but it was still incomplete. This was because Corie remembered nothing from the moment of the explosion to returning to consciousness in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, three weeks later. To fill in the gap, I then recorded first-hand accounts of that period with Corie’s Corporal of Horse, Matthew ‘Jerry’ McGuire, and Corie’s wife, Marketha. Finally, I requested a Preface from Corie’s friend Les Ferdinand, Director of Football at Queens Park Rangers Football Club; a Foreword from former Life Guard officer, Sir Hugh Robertson, Chairman of the British Olympic Association; and a ‘personal view’ from Corie’s troop leader in Afghanistan, the acclaimed author, Barney Campbell. All of them were happy to comply with my request.

Although the book was now ‘in the can’, Corie and I had still not met. The temporary lifting of lockdown before Christmas provided that opportunity, although its reimposition happened before RHQ Household Cavalry could make the arrangements for Corie, ‘in the kit’, to be photographed by Henry Dallal for the book’s front cover, and we didn’t have a publisher.  The easing of lockdown restriction in May this year allowed the cover photoshoot to be organised; this coincided with confirmation that Nine Elms Books, the independent publisher owned and managed by former Mick, Sir Anthony Weldon Bt, was keen to publish with mid-October 2021 as the target date for the book’s launch.

There can be few, if any, books that have been devised and written without the co-authors ever having met, but such is the case with Black Ice. However, I don’t believe that the circumstance of its creation has had a negative impact on the story, which is an uplifting tale of triumph over adversity, laced with both pathos and humour.

Christopher Joll

 Black Ice: The Memoirs of Corie Mapp – soldier, double-amputee & World Champion by Corie Mapp and Christopher Joll will be published by Nine Elms Books in October 2021. In the next edition of The Guards Magazine readers will be given the opportunity to purchase signed copies at a discounted price.


                                                                                                     

 

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