Hour Lives: Yorkshire veteran Simon Brown, who was shot by a sniper in Iraq, to feature in 'inspiring' radio series
Simon, from Leeds, was a corporal in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when he was shot in the face during a rescue mission in Basra in 2006, an incident that left him almost totally blinded.
Both his cheekbones were shattered, his jaw was broken and the roof of his mouth collapsed. His left eye was destroyed and he was left with only 20 per cent vision in his right.
Struggling to adjust to his life-changing injuries, Simon was supported by the charity Blind Veterans UK, where he now works as a communications and engagement officer.
This week, his story will be shared as part of a limited-run radio series designed to support positive wellbeing.
In episode three of Hour Lives, hosts Victoria Garratt, an actor and professional coach from Hull, and Andy Swalwell, a council worker and volunteer community radio presenter, from Market Weighton, meet Simon to explore the theme of resilience and hear how he has rebuilt his life.
In each of Hour Live’s five episodes, Victoria and Andy spend time talking to a different guest, who shares their personal stories of ambition, hope and resilience.
The chat is punctuated with music to match the tone of the conversation, produced by independent and unsigned musicians.
"The idea is to offer listeners an hour long programme to inspire and motivate them by listening to stories of other people that have been through real challenge and can offer insight and guidance,” Victoria says.
“The idea is to inspire people to think about their own lives, reflect on the messages and get a little extra boost in their day. We’re tying ultimately to support positive wellbeing.”
The idea for the series was born out of lockdown, a challenging period for many. “It’s safe to say that the past few years have presented some significant challenges to us all – individually, locally, nationally and around the world,” the pair explain.
“Things don’t seem to be letting up and it was with this in mind that we created [Hour Lives], a limited-run radio series that explores some challenging and everyday issues to inspire and uplift as many people as we can reach.”
In the shows, the duo explore themes including a sense of purpose, supporting others, resilience, how to live by your values and committing to happiness.
In episode one, professional coach Will Clement shares how he helps people to thrive at work and be happy in their personal lives.
His story is followed in episode two by that of Nicola Hardy, who shares how she drastically changed her life by leaving behind a nine-to-five role to become a professional adventurer.
In episode four, Victoria and Andy speak to actor and scriptwriter Belinda Lazenby who has dedicated her career to using theatre and the arts to explore misconceptions around dementia and Alzheimer’s and for the fifth show, they meet Jim Danby, a musician from East Yorkshire who has a passion for songwriting and painting.
Jim shares his story of committing to happiness and hope following the loss of his daughter Jess, and how he expresses his emotions through his love of music. "After the initial grief and trauma, music was part of [my] recovery,” he says.
Andy and Victoria hope their guests’ words will resonate with listeners. Andy, a presenter with East Yorkshire community radio station Vixen 101, says: “If we can do something that’s positive for us to do and helps one person at the end of the day then that’s a great thing.
“It would be lovely to think somebody listens in and the series just chimes with them at the right time, when they’re going through something or dealing with something. It’s been such a lovely thing to be involved in.”
Andy and Victoria are working with other community radio stations across the UK to share the Hour Lives series. Each station broadcasting the series is doing so at a time and date to suit their audience.
Hour Lives has been broadcasting on Vixen 101 at 8pm on Thursdays since February 2 and will next be on this Thursday. To listen, visit vixen101.co.uk