Life At The Limit sees ex-Special Forces sergeant Jason Fox take on his latest challenge – sharing his life experiences with an audience. Best known as one of the tough talking trainers on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, Foxy experienced gun fights, hostage rescues, daring escapes and heroic endeavours during 20 years of military service. But the battles weren’t over when he returned home as he was diagnosed with PTSD. Ahead of his appearance at the Gaiety Theatre on February 1, Jason shares the stories of countless near misses, and the moment he was pushed to the edge.
It’s approaching 10 years since Jason Fox parked up in a cliff-top car park, on the brink of ending his own life.
‘I was having a nightmare of a day – couldn’t see the purpose of anything, work wasn’t good, I’d had a massive argument, and just felt “What’s the point?”,’ he recalled.
‘I’d been in the military for 20 years. I used to be awesome at something, and without that I felt maybe my usefulness on the planet was over.’
During his career in the Marines and Special Forces, Foxy experienced ‘high intensity warfare’ and saw colleagues killed and injured on a regular basis. But he’d lost his ‘military mojo’, and after therapy sessions, he came to accept that a diagnosis of PTSD and medical discharge was the ‘least worst’ option.
Thrust back into civilian life at the age of 36, for the first time since leaving school, the mundanity of everyday living was a bigger challenge than the life he’d known. Jason struggled to find a new identity and that struggle led him to that clifftop.
‘Looking back, I don’t know what stopped me,’ he said. ‘But I guess I just wasn’t quite ready to give up.
‘I had a word with myself, realised things had to change and that moment of honesty was a real defining moment.’
Foxy found a new purpose and drive – partly through founding his mental health charity and partly through his TV career after being approached as one of the experts for SAS: Who Dares Wins, a show he’s been with since it launched in 2015.
Foxy and the team weren’t sold on the original idea of condensing the process of Special Forces selection into a week’s filming. Instead, they offered to use elements of that selection process to create a unique course that would draw out the key attributes needed for Special Forces success – with a focus on physical and mental strength.
‘It’s been phenomenal to see how both civilians and celebrities have thrown themselves into the show over the years,’ he said. ‘I am surprised at how big it’s become, and very proud of it too.
‘What’s also been surprising is what I’ve learned from the experience – not to judge people, to give people another chance.
‘And it does help to fill the gap left from military life. It’s nothing like as tough as I was used to in the Special Forces, but we are still working 24-hour days in extreme environments, pulling together, challenging ourselves.’
That’s something of an understatement when you consider some of Foxy’s anecdotes – having a pistol held to his head by Pablo Escobar’s personal hitman, helicopter crashes in unnamed warzones, or gun battles where the 30-strong squad is surrounded by 200-plus enemy fighters.
Raised on a 1980s council estate in Luton, teenage Foxy was leaning towards the wrong side of the tracks and recognised he needed to make some changes. Enlisting after his GCSEs seemed an obvious choice.
‘I hated school and wanted to leave home, and the quickest way to do that was to enlist. I just wanted to see more of the world,’ he explained.
The 90s were a ‘reasonably quiet’ time for the Marines, but that quiet time made him realise it was the action of soldiering was what Jason enjoyed. So a chance to join Special Forces came at the perfect time as they’re often in active service, even in peacetime.
Foxy had not long completed the selection process when September 11, 2001, came along. ‘I remember seeing the attack on the Twin Towers on TV,’ he said. ‘When it transpired what happened, we knew what would happen next.
‘I knew lads who went in straight away. It was a turning point in the public relationship with and awareness of Special Forces operations – they became mainstream news, having always been very much undercover. Stuff I was doing would be in the newspapers, on the front pages, that had never happened before.’
Rising to the rank of sergeant, Foxy was respected and well regarded as being indestructible, making his PTSD diagnosis and medical discharge all the more surprising to those around him.
Foxy started touring with Life At The Limit last year and ‘absolutely loved it’.
‘I genuinely feel honoured that people want to hear about them. From behind-the-scenes anecdotes of filming, some hilarious, others brutal; and what it’s really like when you come face to face with notorious killers, drug cartels, Mexican warlords and hitmen, this is a no holds barred account of my life to date.’
• The event takes place on February 1 at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £28.