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An Incredible Story of Survival

by Gareth Walsh |

This is Matthew Sharkey, an ex-Paratrooper I served with at SFSG. Yesterday he was avalanched whilst out ice climbing in Scotland. He fell 300 feet, hitting multiple times on the way down. Unfortunately his climbing partners ropes froze and was unable to lock him off. As a result of the fall he has:

-A broken back..

-Broken leg..

-Broken ankle..

-Ruptured ligaments..

-Internal bleeding..

-Nerve damage..

So why am I writing this?

We talk at Sin Eaters Guild a lot about mindset and ensuring you are effective. Matt survived the fall in no small part because he had learnt the skills to climb, practised them and as a result his ice anchors held. But surviving the fall was the easy part..


With zero visibility and continued avalanches around him and his partner he made the decision that waiting for rescue wasn’t an option, he had to walk off the mountain.

Matt is alive because he chose to suffer and was capable of it. A lesser individual may have had no choice than to sit and await rescue, risking his own life as well as his partners and rescue teams. With the injuries stated above he and his partner walked for 3 hrs to get off the mountain in whiteout conditions. An incredible feat of mental toughness and physical endurance. In his own words “I know all these years later P-Coy (part of Parachute Regiment training) has saved my life”.


In this community we MUST strive to be effective, to embrace hardship and suffering, to be able to produce the results required in high stress situations in flux. You can buy the t shirts and patches, but what’s more important is what that represents. When I see someone wearing the Hanged Man I want to know that they will step forward when required. That when they do they’ll be a benefit not a drain. I truly believe that many people people would be capable of enduring what Matt did if their life depended on it, but you must give yourself the best chance of success. We do that by remaining physically fit, practicing skills, getting cold wet and miserable and sometimes scared. You may not be there now, but taking the steps required to get there is something your can do NOW. You don’t know when yours or someone elses life will depend on it. 

Matt is on the mend now in hospital and we wish him a speedy recovery. You may want to drop him a message via our Instagram post and wish him well, I’m sure he’s pretty bored. He has proven again without doubt that he embodies the words of the speech below by Field Marshall Montgomery and is also an example to other members of The Guild.

 “What manner of men are these that wear the maroon beret?

They are firstly all volunteers and are toughened by physical training. As a result they have infectious optimism and the that offensive eagerness which comes from well being. They have jumped from the air and by doing so have conquered fear.

Their duty lies in the van of battle. They are proud of this honour. They have the highest standards in all things whether it be skill in battle or smartness in the execution of peace time duties. They are in fact - men apart - every man an emperor.

Of all the factors, which make for success in battle, the spirit of the warrior is the most decisive. That spirit will be found in full measure in the men who wear the maroon beret. 


Get well soon Airborne.

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