An Iraq War veteran from Leeds who was blinded when he was shot in the face by a sniper has been shortlisted for a prestigious award in recognition of his work for a veterans’ charity.
Simon Brown, 38, from Morley, has been nominated for the People’s Choice award in the seventh annual Soldiering On Awards.
The Soldiering On Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of those who have served their country and individuals and groups who work together with the armed forces community.
Mr Brown was nominated by military charity Blind Veterans UK for his work reaching out to blind veterans who could benefit from the charity’s support and for using his experiences to motivate others.
He was serving as a corporal with the Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (2 Lancashire) when his life changed forever on December 6 2006.
He had successfully led a mission to rescue six stranded soldiers in Basra when he was shot in the face by a sniper.
The bullet entered his left cheek and exited through his right, causing severe facial injuries.
Mr Brown was given emergency treatment in Basra and put into an induced coma. He woke up 17 days later in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, where he was told his left eye was destroyed and there was little hope for sight in his right eye.
Mr Brown said: “That was the point when my world fell apart. When I heard the four words ‘You’ve lost your sight,’ it sounded to me like my life was over.”
Blind Veterans UK provided free practical support, including a rehabilitation programme to help him adjust to sight loss and live independently. Mr Brown said: “As well as all the invaluable and practical support offered by Blind Veterans UK, it was the sense of belonging and understanding from their community that’s really helped me to stay positive.”
Mr Brown, who works as the charity’s communications officer, has spoken about his experience at 72 Blind Veterans UK events across the country over the past year.