War veteran aims to inspire England
January 15, 2012
Corporal Simon Brown talks to coach Dean Ryan ahead of last year's Help For Heroes match © Getty Images
The injured army corporal who asked to address England's Six Nations squad later this month has offered an insight into the message he will pass onto Stuart Lancaster's players.
Simon Brown was shot in the face while saving six comrades during a tour of Iraq in 2006 and the resulting wound destroyed his left eye and 90% of the vision in his right eye. He has since worked with the Help for Heroes charity that was set up to aid injured servicemen and women and has been invited to England's training camp in Leeds later this month by interim head coach Stuart Lancaster who hopes to re-focus his charges ahead of the defence of the northern hemisphere crown.
Brown, who will be one of a number of guest speakers at the camp along with England cricket boss Hugh Morris and British cycling chief Dave Brailsford, is hoping to encourage the players to make the most of their opportunity and to restore pride in the England shirt following a disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign blighted by indiscipline on and off the field.
Asked what his message would be, Brown told The Sunday Times: "You guys are the cream of the cream of English rugby, you are young, you are talented, player for player you can stand against the best players in the world. But you are also young and you need to learn.
"So why not go out there and just show what you can do. Be proud to wear your national shirt. Rugby is fun and you are earning money doing what you love to do. How many of us wouldn't offer up limbs to have the opportunity to put on our national shirt, and you guys have that opportunity."
Brown's shocking injuries occurred when the recovery unit he commanded was called out to rescue a broken-down armoured vehicle in Basra. He managed to get the vehicle going again but he was hit by an insurgent's bullet in the process that tore through both eye sockets and exited below his right ear.
When Brown woke from a coma 17 days later he found out that he had lost both cheeks and a chunk of his jaw bone and would need more than 100 hours of surgery. Having battled back, he now works with young offenders and offers talks to schools. "I was injured doing my job," he told the newspaper. "I was paid to do what I did, and I was proud to be a soldier."
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