Jack Eyers has proved that it is possible to be disabled, fit and sexy by becoming the first ever amputee to win the coveted title of Mr England.
Jack, 28, who is a personal trainer and fashion model, beat off stiff competition from 24 other finalists in the contest to win the title. He now hopes to capitalize on his success by becoming a role model for other disabled young people, and showing them that if you believe you can do something, then you can.
If all this seems to be a long way for a disabled person to travel, it is. Jack was born with a rare condition called Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, which prevented his right leg from growing properly. At the age of 16 he took the brave decision to have the leg amputated.
The period that followed the operation was difficult: there was a lack of visible role models to give him inspiration. “The Paralympians weren’t in the media much back then or the military heroes. I was very lost and had to find my own way.”
Lacking direction, Jack started to work out at the gym, and then a chance meeting gave him inspiration.
“I met this stuntman who had just finished filming Saving Private Ryan with Stephen Spielberg,” Jack says. “He called himself the One-Legged Stuntman. He had this air of confidence about him and that was the first time I had met anyone with one leg that was living this crazy, celebrity lifestyle.”
Two years later, at 18, Jack became a stuntman too. “I started doing film work – being eaten by vampires and zombies. I also started working alongside the military, doing casualty simulations.”
Jack also began a career as a fashion model. He had been spotted by a modelling agency called Models of Diversity, a group who campaign for more diversity within the modelling industry. He appeared at New York Fashion Week, and then on the catwalk in Milan and Moscow.
As if this wasn’t enough, he utilised his keen interest in fitness to become a personal trainer, and then in 2012 he appeared in the Paralympics opening ceremony, learning acrobatics with a circus to get used to climbing ropes and swinging from a trapeze.
“That performance gave me such a buzz I’d never felt before,” he says. “I was hugely inspired by the feeling that disabled people can be powerful and that we’re not weak or incapable.”
As an amputee, Jack hadn’t had any thoughts of entering the Mr England contest. He was working as a personal trainer in Bournemouth when he was approached by talent scouts who were looking for entrants. “They were trying to find role models who would be the next inspiration,” he says.
After being interviewed, he and the other finalists were put into a Facebook group where the men were given challenges to undertake. “There were certain things you had to do to meet the criteria,” Jack explains. “There was a social media round, a talent round, a public vote round.
“It was a lot more commitment than I was originally aware of but I can totally see the benefit now.”
Jack will hold the Mr England title for the next two years, and hopes to use the time to promote public awareness of two charities for whom he acts as ambassador – Models of Diversity, and Limb Power, which helps amputees get into fitness. He also hopes to work with a charity called Legs4Africa, which sends donated prosthetic legs to amputees in Africa.
In eight months time, he will represent England in the Mr World contest in China. “I’m pretty overwhelmed by it,” he confides, “But Mr World is the next big step.”