‘I have to hon­our my friends who lost their lives’

Best - - BEST FOR AWARDS - says SI­MON BROWN

It takes a spe­cial man to set his own per­sonal trauma aside and choose to work tire­lessly for oth­ers in­stead.

But that’s ex­actly what our best Hero Si­mon Brown has done since he sus­tained life-chang­ing in­juries while fight­ing for his coun­try.

On 6 De­cem­ber 2006, Si­mon was lead­ing a dar­ing mis­sion to res­cue six stranded col­leagues in Basra, Iraq.

He was in dan­ger­ous ter­rain, known lo­cally as the ‘ killing zone’. The mis­sion was al­most com­plete when Si­mon was caught in an am­bush.

A sniper’s bul­let en­tered his left cheek and ex­ited through his right cheek, shat­ter­ing both cheek­bones. It de­stroyed his left eye and se­verely dam­aged his right.

Calm and level-headed, Si­mon gave him­self first aid.

‘Once I re­alised I wasn’t dead, I was able to think me­thod­i­cally,’ he says. ‘I opened my own air­way. My nose had gone, and my palate had dropped down and blocked it.’

Si­mon, then 28, was res­cued from the bat­tle­field and, 17 days later, he woke from a coma in Birm­ing­ham’s Selly Oak Hos­pi­tal to the news he’d lost 80 per cent of his sight.

For many peo­ple, this would have sparked de­spair. But for Si­mon, from Mor­ley in West York­shire, it was the start of a truly in­spir­ing fight­back mis­sion. Now, more than a decade since that day in Basra, Si­mon, 38, de­votes his life to help­ing other in­jured sol­diers.

As Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and En­gage­ment Of­fi­cer for Blind Veter­ans UK, he trav­els the coun­try to pro­mote the range of sup­port on of­fer to blind and vi­sion-im­paired for­mer ser­vice­men and women.

Si­mon says, ‘Iraq changed me just as much men­tally as it did phys­i­cally. The char­ity helped me through the very worst times. Sup­port­ing them is my way of say­ing thank you.’

In ad­di­tion to this vi­tal work, and his role as a Help For Heroes Band Of Broth­ers am­bas­sador, Si­mon is also com­mit­ted to help­ing ed­u­cate chil­dren and young peo­ple.

Within a year of his in­jury, Si­mon had be­gun vol­un­teer­ing with Ground­work, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that aims to build con­fi­dence and skills in young peo­ple.

Since 2013, he’s also been in­volved in a project with Der­byshire Po­lice called Your Choice. As part of this scheme, Si­mon speaks to GCSE stu­dents about the im­por­tance of the choices they’ll make in their teenage years.

‘My life changed on that day in Basra, but I have to keep go­ing,’ says Si­mon, who is sin­gle and di­vides his time be­tween London and Leeds.

‘ We lost 28 men while I was on that tour of Basra.

‘I couldn’t lie in bed feel­ing sorry for my­self – it was my duty to get up and hon­our my col­leagues’ mem­ory.’

Si­mon res­cued six col­leagues be­fore he was shot by a sniper The for­mer soldier works tire­lessly to help in­jured ser­vice­men and women

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