Morley Iraq War veteran Simon Brown wins prestigious national award

Simon Brown with Air Vice-Marshal Christina Elliot and Stephen Rigley, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Express.
Simon Brown with Air Vice-Marshal Christina Elliot and Stephen Rigley, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Express.
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Morley’s Iraq War veteran, who was blinded in conflict, has won the Sunday Express ‘People’s Choice’ award at the seventh annual Soldiering On Awards.

Simon Brown, 38, has thanked the people of Leeds for voting for him to win this prestigious national award.

The winner of the People’s Choice award was announced on March 24 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London and was voted for by the public.

Simon said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed and so grateful to everyone in Leeds who voted for me and all the other equally deserving entrants.”

The Soldiering On Awards provide national recognition for the outstanding achievements of those who have served their country and individuals and groups who work together with the Armed Forces community.

Simon was nominated for the award by national military charity Blind Veterans UK, which has supported him since he lost his sight.

Eight years ago, Simon started working full time in Blind Veterans UK’s Headquarters as a Communications and Engagement Officer, responsible for reaching out to more blind veterans who could benefit from the charity’s support.

He said: “I live independently in Leeds and travel all over the country helping blind veterans. I know what it is like to lose your sight and I think that helps when I speak to people in their homes and encourage them to lead full lives.

“I was delighted to be in the audience and I was having a great time listening to the inspirational stories about other people but to win is just incredible.”

Simon joined the Army in May 1997 as a mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Ten years ago, while Simon was a Corporal on tour in Iraq, he was shot in the face by a sniper. This resulted in him losing his left eye and caused severe damage his right eye.

Since losing his sight, Simon has dedicated himself to working with charitable and voluntary organisations and using his experience to motivate others.

In the past year Simon has spoken about his experience with Blind Veterans UK at 72 events all over the country.

Blind Veterans UK was also successful in the International Award category which recognises outstanding acts of comradeship demonstrated internationally. Project Gemini was set up by Blind Veterans UK in May 2011 and its aim is to bring British and American veterans together to share knowledge of rehabilitation and training.

Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss.

The charity estimates that there are currently 832 blind veterans in Leeds that would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting noonealone.org.uk.