| 5.4°C Belfast

Me and my health: retired British Army Colonel Tim Collins on his lifestyle


Fitness fan: Tim Collins

Fitness fan: Tim Collins

Tim Collins in his role as a British Army Colonel

Tim Collins in his role as a British Army Colonel


Fitness fan: Tim Collins

The 59-year-old retired British Army Colonel, originally from east Belfast, is best known for his role in the 2003 Iraq War and his inspirational eve-of-battle speech to around 800 soldiers at Fort Blair Mayne desert camp, a copy of which is said to have hung in the White House's Oval Office. Now a businessman, he lives in Canterbury and London and is married to Caroline (57). They have five children, Charles (29), Patrick (27), Timothy (25), Olivia (21) and Henry (17).

Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?

A: I do. We've got four Springer Spaniels so normally it's a run with them. My wife in her younger days played squash for Ireland and was capped 19 times, so she keeps herself pretty fit too. Since August I've had a trainer who plays for the local rugby team and he comes in and trains me during the week and does an hour a day with me. I have a gym at home, and I usually do a run of three and a half miles or so, then I meet up with him and do some gym work.

Q: What is the worst illness you've had?

A: I've been lucky and haven't really had any, although I did have some mysterious illnesses when I was overseas in Africa. But in 1990 I got blown up and landed on my head and broke my neck and that has had long-reaching consequences for me. I didn't realise my neck was broken until I was leaving the Army and I realised I was shorter than I had been. Those were the days when you just got on with it. The long-term consequence is that I find things creaking. I broke one ankle when I was parachuting and did the other ankle doing a jungle training exercise - these things catch up with you over time.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I think generally it's pretty healthy, although there's probably more meat than would be fashionable, but we also like vegetables. I grow vegetables at our house in Canterbury so it's an added incentive to eat them.

Q: Any bad habits?

A: I probably drink too much red wine and I like my beer. I would smoke one or two cigars a week which would probably count as a bad habit too. The empty calories in beer and wine are why you've got to train to counteract them.

Q: Do you drink and smoke/ if so how much?

A: I probably have a beer most days of the week and I have wine with dinner. At the weekends I go out, but on school nights it's harder. I've never smoked cigarettes - I've never been attracted to them. I smoke cigars, but only two or three times a week. I suppose my father smoked a pipe and cigars and I've always liked the smell of cigars. Since I joined the Army, I developed that bad habit. But again it's infrequent and I wouldn't miss them terribly if I didn't have them.

Q: Do you take any supplements?

A: I don't, no. I am slightly sceptical of all those things. They probably help but you probably get enough through a decent diet.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I suppose gardening during the summer. The house in Canterbury has quite a big garden so it's a lot of work just to keep on top of it. It's lucky I quite like it. With four dogs, if you aren't gardening you're taking them out. Otherwise they will destroy the house. I have two vehicles that I tinker with - a Schwimmwagen, which is a 1944 amphibious car, and a Ford jeep from 1945 - and they keep me busy.

My ambition is to spend more time driving them than fixing them but they're old vehicles so they're temperamental.


Tim Collins in his role as a British Army Colonel

Tim Collins in his role as a British Army Colonel


Tim Collins in his role as a British Army Colonel

Q: How well do you sleep?

A: I sleep like a log, eight hours a night if I can get it, and I normally can. I think that it's one of the things you learn in the Army, to sleep standing up. You understand the need for sleep, you discipline yourself to do it and you really enjoy it.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: The old age fairy catches up with us all. The frustration of having to wear glasses and also feeling all those aches and pains in the morning are something that I don't think anyone would particularly enjoy.

Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: I guess lots and lots of tea. Mrs Doyle from Father Ted would love to work in my house. A good brickie's tea. It's the most ordinary and the most basic of teas - anything else is wasteful.

Colonel Tim Collins is chairman of specialist security company, Pinpoint Corporate Services, which offers training, mentoring and capacity building, and he is also a motivational speaker. For details of public speaking services, email Alice Saunders at alice@lawagency.co.uk

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph