New Morley Mayor credits Blind Veterans UK and Leeds Rhinos for success

THE new Mayor of Morley has credited the charity Blind Veterans UK, and Leeds Rhinos Foundation with supporting him to get to this point in his life. 

Simon Brown, 45 and from Morley, was sworn in as the town’s new Mayor earlier this month.

Simon said:

“It was a very proud moment for me and my family being sworn in and as well as thanking my family I wanted to take the opportunity to thank Blind Veterans UK and Leeds Rhinos Foundation for all they’ve done to help me get here.

“That’s why I’ve chosen the Leeds Rhinos Foundation and Blind Veterans UK as my charities to support in my year as Mayor.”

As well as becoming Mayor, Simon has also been recently elected as the new Leeds City Councillor for Morley North representing the Morley Borough Independents.

Simon joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1997. During his career, he worked as a mechanic servicing and maintaining armed vehicles, serving in Germany, Kosovo, Poland, Canada and Iraq.

He lost his sight in 2006 while serving as a corporal. He led a successful mission to rescue six stranded colleagues in Iraq when he was shot in the face by a sniper, the bullet entered his left cheek and exited the other side.

Simon awoke 17 days later in a Birmingham hospital. He had lost all sight in his left eye and had to undergo several intensive operations to reconstruct his face. Simon was left with around 20 per cent vision in his right eye.

Fortunately, Simon found out about Blind Veterans UK and started receiving support from the charity in 2007.

He 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. Blind Veterans UK gave me the training and support to move forward with my life.

“In my early days with the charity, the education and peer support were invaluable. They built up my confidence and gave me support with the pragmatic things I needed moving forward. I learned how to use email again, I learned how to cook meals by myself, things most people take for granted.”

Simon now works part-time for the charity to support them in reaching out to help more blind veterans. He has also gone on to have a hugely successful career playing and now coaching Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) with Leeds Rhinos.

He said:

“I’m really proud of where we’ve managed to take PDRL and, although my playing days are behind me, I find coaching, particularly with kids, some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.”

Simon has set up two JustGiving Pages for his fundraising effort, his Leeds Rhinos Foundation page can be found at www.justgiving.com/page/simon-brown-1716309046542. His fundraising page for Blind Veterans UK can be found at: www.justgiving.com/page/simon-brown-1716037962451.

Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Adrian Bell, said:

“Simon is a fantastic ambassador for Blind Veterans UK and for Physical Disability Rugby League. I know that he will also now be the best ambassador for Morley in his term as Mayor.”

Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans like Simon but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.

Simon said:

“I speak to so many different sight loss and veteran groups in my role with Blind Veterans UK and it’s a very simple message – Anyone who is struggling with their own sight who has served or anyone who knows someone who could be entitled to their support should get in touch with them today.”

While Blind Veterans UK initially cared for veterans blinded in active Service, today they help veterans no matter what caused their sight loss.

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit: blindveterans.org.uk/gethelp.