Good Causes

How a life-changing injury inspired an army medic

Simon Harmer recalls the moment he lost both legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan without rancour or regret.

The former British Army medic, who suffered life-changing injuries while on foot patrol in Helmand Province in October 2009, said, “I don’t have any regrets because that’s a futile exercise. There were many times in my life when I could have made different decisions, but they’re my decisions. It was my decision to join the military, mine to stay in the military and probably mine to go out on patrol that day. So for me it’s about owning the decisions I make and using them as a lesson.”

Within 2 months of sustaining his injuries Simon, 44, was able to stand on prosthetic legs. The speed of his recovery, he said, was a result of his own determination, the encouragement of other injured soldiers at the Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre in Surrey and the expertise of the medical staff looking after him.

Since leaving the army in 2014, he has used his hard-won experience to talk about resilience and overcoming adversity to audiences at schools, universities, prisons and corporations.

He’s also the star of a new National Lottery TV ad highlighting the staggering £30Million for good causes raised every week by National Lottery players like you.

Simon says National Lottery-funded organisations like The Royal British Legion, SSAFA and Blesma – a charity devoted to helping servicemen and women who have lost limbs – play a vital role in assisting veterans through a range of initiatives including community activities, memorial visits and employment and welfare advice. Since The National Lottery began in 1994 over £339Million has been awarded to over 28,000 projects supporting veterans.

Simon believes that suffering a life-changing injury made him acutely aware that, “you can’t move through life on your own – you need a team who are there for you.”

He said, “It [almost losing his life] makes you more grateful for things. I try to live my life as a bit of a thank you to the people who got me back on my feet and in the 12 years since I was injured that number runs into the thousands.”

Today, Simon and his wife Marisa are the parents of three children – Sophia, 9, Leo, 7 and Emilia, 5. Simon’s passion for long distance swimming has seen him compete in the pool at the Invictus Games and swim the 11-mile length of Lake Windermere twice.

His aim is to swim an Ice Mile – a feat that takes place in water that is less than 5 degrees Celsius.

He said, “Some people let things get in the way of living. I wanted to be an example to the rest of the society to show that life doesn’t have to end with something that could be a life changing injury. It’s about cracking on with your life and finding solutions.”

Supporting veterans is just one of the National Lottery funding areas highlighted by our new TV ad and none of it would be possible without you, the players. By playing The National Lottery you raise £30Million for good causes every week.

2nd October 2020

The National Lottery has been changing the lives of winners and supporting good causes across the UK since 1994. In that time, there have been more than 5,700 new millionaires created and by playing The National Lottery you raise £30Million for good causes every week.

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