South African born Jaco van Gass moved to the UK/England in 2006 aged 20 with the sole intention of joining the British Armed Forces. By mid 2007 Jaco had completed his basic training and joined the well respected Parachute Regiment.
It was during Jaco's second tour of Afghanistan, after 5 and a half months and with just 2 weeks to go when Jaco sustained severe life changing injuries.
Jaco and his platoon were engaged by enemy Forces and after an intense 45 minute fire fight Jaco was hit by an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). The injuries included the loss of his left arm at the elbow, collapsed left lung, shrapnel wounds to left side, punctured internal organs, blast wounds to left upper thigh, broken tibia and fractured knee.
Through intense rehabilitation and determination Jaco has overcome adversity and taken on the world. He has since learnt how to ski and represents the army in competitive downhill race skiing with the CSDST (Combined Services Disabled Ski Team).
He has completed several marathons all over the world including the New York Marathon, Safaricom Kenya Marathon and the US Marine Corps Marathon raising money for various charities.
In 2011 Jaco was part of a team to trek unsupported to the Geographical North Pole and in the process broke a few world records! This group of wounded soldiers became the first to stand on top of the world and raised £1.5 Million for the Walking With the Wounded, a charity which re-trains and re-educates the wounded once they leave the forces.
As a serviceman, patron of the charity and keen supporter of the forces, HRH Prince Harry joined the team on their epic trek for 5 days and a two part documentary aired on BBC 1 (Harry's Arctic Heroes).
In October 2011 Jaco climbed the 8th highest mountain in the world Mt Manaslu (8164m) in the Himalayas and became the first South African to conquer this mountain.
Jaco set his sights on something much higher and in 2012 as a mentor and an integral part of the summit team, departed the UK to climb Mount Everest. Unusually warm weather and extremely dangerous conditions prevented the team from reaching the summit, making it just short of camp 3 at 7000m.
Jaco made his first appearance on TV in 2010 on Prince Williams Africa (BBC 2) and has since featured in Harry's Arctic Heroes (BBC 1), A Royal Year to Remember (BBC 3), The Sun Military Awards (ITV 3), BBC Breakfast, Day Break (ITV) and features in the Walking With the Wounded Book.
Continually seeking out new challenges, Jaco's presentation encompasses physical hardship, smashing world records and the ability to change. His message is one begotten of terrible circumstances, however, audiences will be attracted and motivated by Jaco's charm, wit and determination. Jaco tells his story with stories from real life adventures which he instigated due to his injuries and experience. This is a presentation not to be missed.
Jaco is charming, witty and determined and this shines through in the passion he injects into his presentations. He is engaging and has a real drive for others to take the opportunities that he has taken in order for them to improve their lives, both in and out of the workplace.