In 2006 Simon was serving in Iraq. Having just successfully completed emergency repairs on a vehicle under heavy insurgent attack, Simon’s vehicle was pulling away when he was hit by a bullet to the face. An inch more and the bullet would have hit his brain.
Simon recalled: “Thank God I didn’t pass out. My palate had collapsed and I couldn’t breathe. I put my thumb in my mouth to hold it up and keep my airway open all the way back to the base, where I collapsed.”
His colleagues rushed him for emergency treatment at nearby Basra Palace, where he was given a tracheotomy which saved his life. He was then airlifted to the base hospital where he had the first of many operations to rebuild his face. A day later he was transferred back home for further treatment and rehabilitation at Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham. Waking up from a coma 17 days later, Simon learnt that as well as losing his left eye, he now only had 20% vision in his right eye, he had lost both cheek bones, his nasal cartilage, two teeth and a chunk of jaw bone.
In the last five years, Simon has undergone 12 operations, totalling nearly 100 hours of surgery. Simon has always been determined to help others through his experiences and is hugely generous with his time. He regularly gives motivational talks in schools and does a significant amount of work for charities including H4H.
Simon said: “It made me realise I might have a purpose in life.” Simon is an active member of the Band of Brothers network and is hugely grateful for the public’s support to generate funds to help H4H with its vital work. “Without charities like Help for Heroes, so many blokes like me would be stuck,” he added.
In recognition, Simon has undertaken two H4H challenges. After completing a 100k trek in the heat of the Sahara Desert last year, Simon signed up to tackle our recent Costa Rica Jungle Challenge. Help for Heroes is proud of Simon and hugely grateful for his dedication and support. Simon’s commitment to his charity work has seen him nominated to carry the 2012 Olympic Torch, an honour he describes as “the culmination of the hard work I have done to rebuild my life.”