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As a schoolboy, Par­a­lympian Steve Brown told his teacher he wanted to ei­ther rep­re­sent his coun­try as a sports­man or be a wildlife pre­sen­ter. Amaz­ingly, Steve achieved both am­bi­tions – de­spite in­cur­ring a life-chang­ing in­jury. Read his story on

on lo­ca­tion in es­sex, Par­a­lympian

Steve Brown tells TV Times about his life-chang­ing in­jury and his joy at be­com­ing a pre­sen­ter on Coun­try­file

fac­tual Coun­try­file sun­day / bbc1 / 7.00Pm

If Par­a­lympian-turnedCoun­try­file pre­sen­ter Steve Brown had lis­tened to his school ca­reers ad­vi­sor, his life may have turned out dif­fer­ently.

‘I wanted to be a sportsper­son play­ing for Eng­land and he said, “That won’t be easy, what’s your plan B?” Then I said I wanted to be like David At­ten­bor­ough and travel the world learn­ing about wildlife, and he said, “Reel it in, lots of peo­ple want to be like At­ten­bor­ough”,’ re­calls Steve, who turns 36 on 2 June.

Steve has proved that teacher wrong in style – cap­tain­ing Team GB in the wheel­chair rugby at the Lon­don 2012 Par­a­lympics and be­com­ing a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to BBC1’S pop­u­lar mag­a­zine show.

‘They are the two things my ca­reers ad­vi­sor said I’d never be able to do and here I am,’ laughs Steve as TV Times meets him near Chelms­ford, Es­sex, where he is shoot­ing a film about me­dieval long­bows for this Sun­day’s Coun­try­file [see box, right]. ‘I just hope he’s watch­ing!’

It’s not just his ca­reers ad­vi­sor’s low ex­pec­ta­tions that Steve has over­come

– he has achieved both of his child­hood dreams af­ter sus­tain­ing a life-chang­ing in­jury. Work­ing in Ger­many for a hol­i­day com­pany in 2005, Steve, then 24, fell from a first-floor bal­cony and broke his neck. The in­jury left him paral­ysed from the ch­est down. ‘That changed ev­ery­thing,’ he ad­mits. ‘I lost my con­fi­dence. I’d been trav­el­ling the world and now I was scared of leav­ing hos­pi­tal. Be­ing in­tro­duced to wheel­chair rugby was a mas­sive turn­ing point. A lot of peo­ple I met had worse in­juries and I thought, “Who am I to worry about my fu­ture?” To then see my team come fifth in Lon­don was amaz­ing.’

A dis­lo­cated thumb thwarted Steve’s hopes of com­pet­ing at the Rio Par­a­lympics in 2016, but the in­jury al­lowed him to con­cen­trate on pur­su­ing a TV ca­reer when he was asked to be a BBC pun­dit for the In­vic­tus Games and part of

C4’s pre­sent­ing team for Rio.

‘Ev­ery­thing crashed down when I couldn’t go to Rio and I had to rein­vent my­self again, so now be­ing a Coun­try­file pre­sen­ter is bril­liant, and I’m proud and lucky to be here!’ beams Steve, who also fea­tures on The One Show. ‘I love wildlife, there’s so much di­ver­sity in the Bri­tish coun­try­side and this job is giv­ing me so many op­por­tu­ni­ties.’

Steve’s en­thu­si­asm for the coun­try­side is in­fec­tious, and his con­stant wise­crack­ing – ‘Make sure you tell your read­ers about my ter­rain skills,’ he chuck­les as he ma­noeu­vres his chair over un­even ground in the woods – has made him a hit with Coun­try­file view­ers.

‘Strangers get in touch and they don’t say, “It’s great see­ing a guy in a wheel­chair work­ing on a wildlife show”, they say, “Your en­thu­si­asm for voles re­ally comes across”, or “We love your cheeky smile”,’ he says. ‘I was ner­vous peo­ple would say, “Steve is part of the

Coun­try­file team be­cause he’s in a wheel­chair”. But no­body wor­ries about the chair, it isn’t the cen­tre of at­ten­tion.’

Steve’s love of wildlife was nur­tured dur­ing his child­hood by his father, when the fam­ily lived on the Isle of Shep­pey in Kent.

‘I’d al­ways watch things like The Re­ally Wild Show or The Tri­als of Life, and I’d head off to find stick­le­backs, newts and frogs in the river near home, or go into the fields and catch grasshop­pers, or help out with or­phaned lambs on a farm,’ says Steve.

‘Dad was a mas­sive in­flu­ence. We’d walk the dog and lis­ten to the sky­larks. Now I do the same with my nephew. I can’t take him to foot­ball, but I can take him out with a bird book and teach him pa­tience and em­pa­thy.’

Steve’s fam­ily is pretty chuffed that he’s work­ing on Coun­try­file.

‘My fam­ily loves the coun­try­side,’ he says. ‘As a kid, John Craven’s News­round was my bread and but­ter, and now I can tell my dad I spent the day with him. My un­cle asked me the other day, “Can

I come on a Coun­try­file shoot with you?” I was so happy to say yes.’

Steve still hopes to em­u­late David At­ten­bor­ough and travel the globe shar­ing his love of wildlife.

‘Peo­ple say, “If that ac­ci­dent hap­pened to me, I couldn’t do what you have done; I’d be sitting in­doors watch­ing TV”, but I al­ways wanted to do my best and my in­jury hasn’t changed my char­ac­ter,’ he says.

‘If you’re happy, what­ever life throws at you, you see the pos­i­tive.

‘I’ve al­ways liked to over­come chal­lenges. I make the most of any sit­u­a­tion and this is just an­other sit­u­a­tion.’

If you’re happy, what­ever

life throws at you, you see the

pos­i­tive old craft: Steve gets a les­son in bow mak­ing In ac­tion: Steve com­pet­ing at the 2012 Par­a­lympics

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