I’ll win DOI for my Gran!
Everything I do in life is for my gran,” said Johnson, 31. She’s the one who was there for me, growing up as a kid in Grenada and there were days when we had no food to eat. Sadly, she passed away in 2003. Everything I do is to make her proud.
Johnson says he finds the prospect of skating in front of a huge TV audience even more frightening than the day he risked death in Iraq to save the lives of fellow soldiers.
His heroism earned him the first Victoria Cross awarded to a British soldier in 20 years.
Johnson is still living with the legacy of his courageous act in 2004. He was so badly wounded that he had to have his skull, nose and face rebuilt with titanium plates. And last night the former soldier, who will be competing against the likes of Ab Fab actress Nadia Sawalha, Loose Woman star Denise Welch, and rapper Vanilla Ice, told the Sunday Express of his worries about slipping on the ice.
If I fall, it’s over for me, I know that, but I’ve been working hard. I’m not going to fall. However, he admitted: “There were times that even I thought I wouldn’t make it. The first time I stepped on to the ice I couldn’t even stand. The minute I put my foot on the ice, I started to fall.”
The results of some intensive training with Olympic stars Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean has left his dance partner Jodeyne Higgins impressed.
Now I’m doing twists, spins, loads of stuff. I can even skate backwards. In fact, I’m more comfortable going backwards than forwards.
When Johnson was in Iraq serving with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment he carried out two acts of bravery which saved the life of a dozen comrades.
In both incidents, he kept driving his Warrior troop carrier through heavy gunfire despite his wounds.
Recalling the day he suffered his appalling injuries, he said: “I had a way to leave everyone behind and save myself. But what I saw was soldiers who were going to die and there was only one way to save them. It meant me dying.” A rocket-propelled grenade exploded barely six inches from him, wounding him in the head.
Despite the pain, he took control of the vehicle but was forced to leave his head above the hatch exposed to enemy fire in order to guide it and his comrades to safety. The effects are with him to this day.
I had serious brain injury,” he said. “I had my whole head reconstructed. They used titanium and gave me a new eye socket and a new nose, more or less a new face.
He also suffered five crushed vertebrae in his lower back and an injury to his shoulder that left him with limited use of his right arm.
I’ve been in pain 24 hours a day for six-and-a-half years,” he added. “But it’s a question of mind over matter.
He gives his beloved grandmother Isabella Bolah the credit for looking over him.
The only reason I survived was because she was looking after me. I really believe that.
Speaking about tonight’s performance he said: “I know millions of people will be watching. Any mistake, and they will all see it. But I’m confident.”
Dancing On Ice can be seen on ITV1 tonight at 6.30pm.