Blinded Morley war veteran Simon Brown to begin walking length of Britain for charity that helped him
A Leeds war veteran who was blinded by enemy fire in Iraq is due to start his challenge today to walk the length of Britain to support the charity that helped him rebuild his life.
Simon Brown aged 42, is taking on the challenge of walking the length of Britain between Land’s End and John o’ Groats to help Blind Veterans UK with two of his Leeds Rhinos Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) teammates and another friend.
Mr Brown, Dan Roberts, Tom Kaye and Roy Wilson are due to begin the 1,406km (874 miles) walk today and plan to maintain a 45km-a-week pace in order to complete the distance within 69 days – on VE Day, May 8.
Mr Brown, from Morley, was a corporal with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when he was shot in the face as he led a successful mission to recover six stranded colleagues in Basra, Iraq in 2006.
The bullet entered his left cheek and exited the other side but Mr Brown was able to perform his own first aid for 25 minutes before his colleagues managed to get him to Basra Palace.
When he woke from an induced coma 17 days later in a Birmingham hospital, he had lost his left eye and was left with around 20 per cent vision in his right eye.
Mr Brown said: “When I found out that I’d lost my sight, my world fell apart.
“I’d lost my career, I’d lost my job and I’d lost my future.
“In my early days with Blind Veterans UK the education and peer support was invaluable.
“They built up my confidence and gave me support with the pragmatic things I needed to move forward.
“I learned how to use email again, I learned how to cook meals by myself, things most people take for granted."
The virtual Blind Veterans UK challenge is open to anyone who wants to help raise money for the charity and entrants have until May 8 to run, walk, cycle or swim the distance.
Mr Brown added: "My knees are getting knackered with age so it’s going to get tough towards the end.
“I want to show people what’s possible with a bit of hard work and dedication, even in difficult circumstances. And hopefully we can inspire some other blind veterans and the wider public to take on this challenge for Blind Veterans UK.”
For more information visit www.blindveterans.org.uk/LEJOG.