AFTER 22 years in the green beret, Royal Marine Commando veteran and Newton Abbot local Sam Sheriff roped himself into yet another challenge this week, as he climbed a 20-foot rope, 20 times an hour, for 24 hours.
This mammoth challenge was to raise money for a charity that Sam himself founded, REORG, which helps the military, emergency services and veterans through jiu-jitsu and fitness training.
Originally from East Yorkshire, Sam set his sights on the Royal Marines at a young age. ‘My dad was in the Navy and my uncle was a Royal Marine Commando, so it was a childhood dream from a young age,’ said Sam.
‘People talk about defining moments in school and stuff like that. For me, the 22 years of the Royal Marines shaped me and made me into who I am today.’
Sam started REORG while he was still serving, realising the mental and physical benefits of jiu-jitsu from personal experience and realising its applicability in the armed forces. Sam soon officially introduced it in the Marines, growing it to be the most popular sport.
‘Because it was so successful, I was able to switch fire to helping people through jiu-jitsu with REORG, because I knew how much it had helped me personally through tough times.
‘Originally, it was just for Marines. But we realised that it wasn’t just Marines that needed the assistance of REORG, it was the wider military community.
‘So later, we pushed it out to emergency services as well.
‘Since then, we’ve helped hundreds of men and women across our demographic. The reality is that we’ve changed a lot of lives, but we’ve also saved a lot of lives.’
Fast forward to 2022, Sam had left the Marines and decided to embark on this crazy challenge.
‘I came up with the idea of the challenge towards the end of last year, I set a ceiling of £10,000 before we started the challenge.
‘All the way through my career, I’ve climbed ropes and done all sorts of challenges, but this was different because I didn’t know if I could achieve it. I’ve never climbed that much, certainly not for 24 hours, all the way through the night. So this was a real challenge.
‘I had done a lot of preparation and training. I’d climbed through every weather that you could imagine, snow, rain, wind. I was getting up in the middle of the night, just to prepare myself for every eventuality.’
Once the day finally came for the challenge, Sam was as prepared as he could be.
‘The hardest part for me was just the general attrition,’ remembered Sam, ‘I couldn’t get any rest of substance because it was on the hour every hour.
‘What was also hard was I’d do my stint climbing, and then I’d have time to relax. But past two in the morning, I was freezing cold between climbs. I felt like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz, I needed oiling!
My body was absolutely screaming, my hands were on fire, joints aching.
‘I hit two walls, one at two in the morning, and one at six, where I had to really dig deep.
‘I had Mark Ormrod, a good friend, a fellow royal marine veteran and trustee of REORG, with me.
‘It was great having him there, we had the typical Marine banter going on, we had the tunes going from our childhood, eighties power ballets, Take That, the Rocky soundtrack, it made the challenge a lot easier.’
Donations came from friends, family, supporters and sponsors. The World’s Strongest Man champion Eddie Hall even donated £1,000 after Sam taught him how to climb a rope and then won the challenge that Eddie set against other athletes.
The campaign has raised over £15,000 so far, which will go towards enabling the military, veterans and emergency service workers to get involved with jiu-jitsu through programmes, talks memberships and equipment.
Sam added: ‘It’s the whole thing really, from the grassroots to those veterans that have left the brotherhood and sisterhood. When they leave, there’s a void that needs filling, and we can fill it with jujitsu and fitness.
Donations are still open, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/samuel-sheriff to get involved.