[Press & Publications] One Step Beyond - Adversity to Achievement [Graduates' Association Lecture]

January 2001

No 7

University of Leicester Annual Graduates' Association Lecture

Chris Moon, MBE, has served with the Royal Military Police and with infantry units, cleared landmines throughout Asia and Africa and been captured by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, from which he led his colleagues to safety through a mined jungle at night.

He has also run marathons more often than most people run for a bus, which is all the more remarkable when you know that he lost his right leg below the knee and his right arm below the elbow when clearing landmines in Mozambique in 1995.

So when he gives the Annual Graduates' Association Lecture at the University of Leicester on Wednesday 28 February 2001 is likely to tell an action-packed tale.

Not one to sit back passively, within a year of the accident in Mozambique Chris Moon had successfully achieved the degree of MSc Information Technology and Security Management from the University of Leicester Scarman Centre and set up his own security management business. The University also conferred on him the Honorary Degree of Master of Laws in 1999.

The title of Chris Moon's lecture, One Step Beyond, is also the title of his biography.

The University of Leicester Graduates' Association Lecture is an annual event open to the general public, as well as students and graduates. It is generally given by a prominent graduate or honorary graduate of the University. Previous speakers include the late actor and comedian Derek Nimmo, Sir Angus Stirling, formerly of the National Trust, journalist Michael Nicholson OBE, actress and director Janet Suzman, the late Professor Malcolm Bradbury, the intrepid explorer Dr David Hempleman Adams, and Professor Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer.

One Step Beyond will take place at 6 pm on Wednesday 28 February 2001 in Lecture Theatre 1 in the Ken Edwards Building at the University of Leicester. Admission is free.

Note to editors: Biographical notes on Chris Moon follow. For further details about the lecture please contact Kathryn Whitehurst, Graduate Relations Officer, University of Leicester, telephone 0116 252 2195, email kjw1m@admin.le.ac.uk

Chris Moon

Born in Wiltshire in May 1962. He studied Agriculture at Seale Hayne College Newton Abbot (now Plymouth University faculty of Agriculture and Food Technology). Believing in Service he worked as a volunteer at a centre for the homeless and then joined the army. On graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst he was commissioned into the Royal Military Police, he also served with several infantry units.

After the army he worked for a British charity the Hazardous Areas Life Support Organisation (HALO Trust) specialising in mine clearance. They recruited a wide range of ex-servicemen, most with two years operational experience. After specialist training from a Royal Engineer bomb disposal officer he supervised and trained former Cambodian soldiers in mine clearance, something described by many as the ultimate leadership and management challenge. He is one of the few westerners to have survived abduction by the Khmer Rouge, successfully preventing execution and negotiating his release and that of two Cambodian colleagues from a remote jungle base, finally marching 50km overnight through patrolled and mined jungle.

In 1995 he was blown up walking in a cleared area. He lost his lower right arm and leg, but does not consider himself a victim and accepts total responsibility, because he chose to work in mined areas, whereas people who live there have no choice. He survived against all the odds because of his high level of fitness (he was a keen runner) and because of his knowledge of first aid. After leaving hospital he did a Masters Degree in Security Management at the University of Leicester. In 1996 he was awarded MBE for services to the HALO Trust clearing anti-personnel mines. In 1998 he was awarded the US Centre for Disability and PALM international leadership award. In March 1999 he was awarded the Snowdon Special Award for leadership and help to the disabled by Lord Snowdon. He has been awarded honorary degrees and doctorates by the universities of Plymouth, Leicester and Exeter.

He set up a small company MTB (Making The Best- his philosophy in life) which solves problems in the fields of human resources and security management. He is a well-known speaker on the subjects of change management, motivation, leadership and the concept of limitation. His widely acclaimed autobiography ‘One Step Beyond’ was published by Macmillan in 1999.

Less than a year after leaving hospital he completed the London Marathon to raise funds for mine injured in Cambodia. In April 1997 he was the first leg amputee to complete the 250km Great Sahara Run described as the toughest footrace on earth. Competitors run for six days in the heat and sand of the Sahara. They carry their own food, equipment and sleeping bag and have to be self sufficient for the week. He ran to raise £100,000 for an International Committee of the Red Cross centre providing false limbs in Vietnam, to push the bounds of prosthetics further and to challenge the concept of limitation.

In July 1997 he ran 200 km in four days with the Australian Army to assist mine victims. He usually runs to raise funds for charities assisting the disabled and carried the Olympic torch into the stadium in the Nagano Winter Olympics in Japan in February 1998. He ran from Hakone to Tokyo to raise funds for a Japanese charity. In April he started and ran the Flora London Marathon (the first person to ever do this), captaining a team of 500 runners raising funds for various charities. In September 1998 he completed the first ‘Outback Challenge’ with John Bryant runner and journalist through some of the toughest arid outback and mountain country in Australia to raise funds to support mine action programmes. May 15- 31 1999 he ran the length of Cambodia (700km) to try to change attitudes towards the disabled, raise funds to help them and to support requests for the Cambodian government to ratify the Ottawa Treaty. He was supported by a team from the Red Cross.

In July 1999 he was the first amputee to complete the Badwater Death Valley Ultra-marathon. 136 miles (5 marathons back to back) in temperatures similar those recommended for slow cooking chicken. In April 2000 he jointly led a party climbing Kilimanjaro on a new north route. In May 2000 he completed the 100km Kumamoto volcano run in Japan and in July 2000 was one of only 12 people in the world to do the Death Valley 300 miles, from the lowest point of the USA continuously on foot to the highest point and back again in just over six days in temperatures over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

He is involved with St Loyes (President), Disability Sport England (President), Honorary President of Organisation of Chartered Physiotherapists in Private Practice (OCPPP), The British Limb-less Ex-Service Men’s Association, Motivation, Concern, Association to Aid Refugees, Scope, The Red Cross and is patron of COCO and Children’s Chance. He is an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust.

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