Simon joined the British Army as a Combat Medic in 1997. During his time in the armed forces, he completed two tours of Bosnia, a tour of Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan. But everything changed when he stood on an
Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
Whilst on foot patrol in Afghanistan in 2009, Simon stepped on a makeshift bomb (an IED) which resulted in the loss of both his legs.
“I was flown back to Camp Bastion where surgeons saved my life.”
Shortly after, Simon was flown back to Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham, where his treatment continued. Over a period of four and a half years, Simon rotated through physiotherapy, surgery and learning to walk on prosthesis.
"Help for Heroes were there for me from the beginning. I had nothing when I arrived at Selly Oak, and they provided a care package of toiletries and clothes that fitted me. Then when I moved back home the Charity helped with adaptations to my house meaning I could move around it more easily."
Taking the plunge
Just five months after his treatment, Simon went downhill skiing in Germany. His accommodation sat within easy reach of a local pool and for the first time since his accident, he decided to take the plunge and give swimming another go.
“I knew what I was capable of doing before my injury, and that swimming was an effective way to rehab. He said. “Outside of the water, I felt really self-conscious, everyone was looking at me, but, in the water, I felt normal. I wasn’t being supported by my chair, the water was supporting me. It normalised things again.
Since his first swim back, Simon has gone on to defy so many odds and prove injury doesn’t mean the end to a life of activity and adventure.
He went on to compete in the monumental 'Race Across America' - one of the toughest cycling challenges in the world. 3,000 miles across 12 states on two wheels. If that wasn’t enough, little over a month after his return from the US, Simon completed a grueling half-ironman.
“I refuse to be defined by my injures and instead, lead an active lifestyle. I’ve found new ways of enjoying the things I did pre-injury. Each experience has given me the unique gift of adapting – something we all need in a world of uncertainty and chaos.” He says.
Simon is now an avid open water swimmer and motivational speaker. He says: “Swimming has been something that has kept me grounded, humbles me and keeps my resilience up. I can’t emphasis the importance of being in the water for good mental health and there are the physical benefits too!
“I talk a lot about resilience – something we all need to learn for ourselves and cold water swimming certainly helps make you resilient. Being outside in the fresh air, raising your heart rate is an amazing feeling, not to mention the sense of community and belonging involved in open water swimming.”