Former serviceman Billy swaps guns for guitars in Leeds competition

Billy Mitchell at the Trinity Sessions gig.
Billy Mitchell at the Trinity Sessions gig.
Have your say

AN EX-SERVICEMAN who served in Afghanistan is facing a battle of a different kind as he fights for a place in the final of a top music competition.

Billy Mitchell, from Beeston, has made it to the shortlist for the Trinity Sessions competition, which will offer the lucky winner the chance to record an album and perform at the Live at Leeds festival.

Billy Mitchell, at the back, pictured in Afghanistan with comrade Matt Brown.

Billy Mitchell, at the back, pictured in Afghanistan with comrade Matt Brown.

It’s a big change of pace for the 25-year-old, who trained as a heavy weapons specialist and machine gunner after joining the RAF at the age of 17.

Billy travelled to Afghanistan twice and was based near Camp Bastion in the Helmand province, working with the Medical Emergency Response Teams picking up casualties from all across the country.

During his first trip to the country, Billy was caught up in an explosion that seriously injured his comrades and left him with minor injuries.

He said: “I was caught in an IED strike on my vehicle.

“I was extremely lucky to come away with minor injuries, although my friends Michael Goody and Craig Richardson weren’t so lucky as they both lost lower limbs.”

Friend Michael went on to compete for Team GB in the Invictus Games, taking home several medals.

Billy also left the RAF and pursued his passion for music after his old sergeant taught him some basic guitar chords.

He said: “My passion for music is my driving force in life.

“I found my love for guitar after receiving a quick lesson on basic chords from an old sergeant, and I found my saviour.

“I made a leap of faith to make music not just my passion and hobby but my life.”

Billy performed at Trinity Kitchen for the Trinity Sessions competition and will find out this week if he makes it to the next round. He added: “I am always trying to further myself and just be the best I can be.

“I am now a very successful busker and musician, making my living doing what I love.”

Billy also performs gigs in aid of charities such as Help for Heroes and PTSD charities.