A VETERAN who set up his own coaching business and supports amputees in Sierra Leone has been shortlisted for two awards.

AJ Roberts, who lives in Longhedge and served in the army for 15 years, is in the running for the Inspiration of the Year and Veteran Owned Business of the Year titles in the Veterans Awards.

Speaking about receiving the news of his nominations, he said: “I was absolutely chuffed to bits.”

In addition to his coaching he is a patron of Melqosh Mission International, which supports amputee victims of the civil war. In January, he went out to Sierra Leone to help the charity.

“It is an amazing feeling [to be nominated for the awards]. I don’t do things to get recognised when I’m coaching people and they are making great improvements or I’m working with amputees and helping amputees in Sierra Leone,” said AJ.

“During the Covid period I raised quite a bit of money to help get food and water to the amputee villages because there was a shortage. We got trucks delivering food and water to the local villages. I also do a lot of work with people leaving the military who have got no idea what they want to do.”

The former Royal Engineer, who has served in Afghanistan, left the army in 2013 and says he has always been “entrepreneurial minded” and left the military with the “onus that I wanted to make a success of myself and my own business”.

He set up a gym in Australia but ended up returning to the UK with his family where he had to get “back on is feet”, adding : “Five years down the line I’ve got a strong coaching business.”

He coaches and mentors clients who run their own businesses as well as ex military - helping people build up their confidence or reach individual goals which can be improving their health, changing their mindset or overcoming fears. AJ , who is also a football coach, has helped veterans experiencing mental health problems.

He hopes his story will help inspire other veterans who want to set up their own business.

In the future AJ hopes to continue to grow the business and also continue his charity work in Sierra Leone including setting up a soccer school.

The final of the awards will take place on October 7 in Solihull.

Visit mrajroberts.com