Falklands War hero Simon Weston OBE spoke to North East business leaders today about how their support of a local hospice can help benefit the lives of people with terminal illnesses and their families.
The veteran – last year named Britain’s most heroic figure and the nation’s favourite war hero in two separate polls – spoke of how the care and dedication of medical teams and support workers helped him and his family through his darkest days and on to the road to recovery after his life-changing injuries sustained during the Falklands War, and why that has inspired him to become a supporter of Marie Curie.
In 1982, aged only 20, Welsh Guardsman Simon suffered 46% burns when the Sir Galahad ship was bombed en route to Bluff Cove in the Falklands. Fifty-six men died in the disaster.
Given only a slim chance of survival, Simon has endured more than 90 operations over three decades but now prides himself on living life to the full and dedicates himself to fundraising to help others.
He visited the North East to champion the cause of the Marie Curie Hospice Newcastle, which provides specialist care to people with terminal illnesses coupled with dedicated support for their families. The Hospice – this year celebrating its 20th anniversary – has running costs of £6,584 a day, and runs the Pay for a Day initiative for businesses to donate the cost of financing it for 24 hours.
The war hero addressed a breakfast of some of the region’s leading business figures, hosted by law firm Sintons in Newcastle, before touring the Hospice and meeting patients.
Simon said: “Unless you have experienced it yourself, you cannot begin to imagine what it feels like for someone to care for you, to give their time to you, at a time when you know you may not have long left. To this day, I remember the people who were there for me, those who stayed with me and cared for me in the many long days, months and years after day on 8 June 1982. And they also extended that care to my family, who suffered at the same time as I did.
“Marie Curie is a very special cause. They give that care and dedication to so many people and so many families. They do more than help people to survive, they help them to live and to enjoy their life, however long they may have left. Several of my closest friends have benefited from the fantastic work of Marie Curie and I can only commend the work they do, which really cannot be measured unless you have experienced that situation yourself.”
Alan Dawson, Chairman of Sintons, said: “It was a true honour to welcome Simon Weston to Sintons. To suffer such devastating injuries at such a young age would have broken most people, but to hear Simon’s story, coupled with his love of life and commitment to helping others, is truly humbling. To call him inspirational does feel like an understatement.
“He is a passionate supporter of Marie Curie – a sentiment shared by Sintons, who have two of our Partners on the Newcastle Hospice Development Board – and we hope his visit to the region helps to raise new awareness of the Hospice and its work, and of its vital Pay for a Day campaign.”
To donate to Pay for a Day, contact Lisa Wilson, Fundraising Manager for Marie Curie Hospice Newcastle, on firstname.lastname@example.org