Simon Weston CBE is a veteran of the British Army who is known for his charity work and recovery from severe burn injuries suffered during the Falklands War Conflict in 1982.
Born in Caerphilly District Miners Hospital in Wales, he was brought up by his mother, Pauline and adoptive father, 'Lofty'. He lived in Singapore and Lincoln before returning to Nelson at the age of seven. He openly admits that at 14, he was given a police caution when he was caught as a passenger in a car stolen with his older friends.
He joined the Welsh Guards in 1978 at the age of 16 at the insistence of his mother, after he "got into bother" once again. He served in Berlin, where he guarded Rudolf Hess, Northern Ireland, Kenya and later was deployed to the Falkland Islands on the QEII.
On 8 June 1982, he was boarded with other members of his regiment on RFA Sir Galahad in Port Pleasant near Fitzroy, just off the Falkland Islands. It was bombed and set on fire by the Argentine Skyhawk fighters during the Bluff Cove Air Attacks. His ship was carrying ammunition as well as phosphorus bombs and thousands of gallons of diesel and petrol. Out of his platoon of 30 men, 22 were killed. The Welsh Guards lost a total of 48 men killed and 97 wounded aboard the Sir Galahad. He was the worst injured to survive, with 46% burns, following which his face was barely recognisable. Even his flight home was not without incident and as for his arrival; his own mother did not recognise him.
Simon has endured years of reconstructive surgery. Skin from his shoulders was used to make eyelids and his nose was grafted on in a later operation. He has just completed yet another period in hospital to reconstruct his eyelids. He suffered psychological trauma, drinking heavily and becoming suicidal, and admits his behaviour during this time was "terrible". He credits his mother with helping him to overcome this dark time and throwing himself into raising money for charities. He met and married Lucy, a fitness instructor from Liverpool and is now a father and grandfather. He was awarded an OBE for his efforts for charity and last year a CBE for that continued work.
John Mackintosh Hall