Monday, March 22, 2010

Stories of Forgiveness ~ Lent series ~ Simon Weston

Stationed aboard the troop ship "Sir Galahad", Simon Weston was a 20 year old soldier with four years military experience. On the 8th June 1982 whilst in the midst of the Falklands conflict with Argentina, the sir Gallahad was hit by direct fire from an Argentinian bomber. The Sir Galahad was carrying an assortment of bombs and weapons and the resulting fire and carnage led to the death of forty eight men and the injury of a further 97.

Simon Weston was one of the injured. He had received over 46% burns, his face and hands were very badly burnt. When he eventually arrived in the UK, his mother failed to recognise him. Simon recalls, "My first encounter with a really low point was when they wheeled me into the transit hospital at RAF Lyneham and I passed my mother in the corridor and she said to my gran, "Oh mam, look at that poor boy" and I cried out "Mam, it's me!" And as she recognised my voice her face turned to stone."

Simon underwent over 70 operations to reconstruct his hands and face. His progress was followed by a BBC film crew and I remember watching the television and seeing the amazing work that the doctors were able to do. Simon needed more than a physical cure though as he suffered post traumatic stress disorder, depression, began to drink heavily and became suicidal. His Fiance called off the engagement.

Simon believes that his mother held a special role in pulling him from the depths. She got him back in contact with his former regiment and they reused to molly coddle him and to "face up to the unavoidable and to be positive about everything including especially {his} future".
Clearly Simon could no longer function as a soldier, but his determination, strength of mind and personality meant that he was able to become a spokesman. He appeared on the radio and televison and then began to front charities including his own "Weston Spirit".
Many in Simons position might hold anger and hate directed at someone whose bomb had caused him so many trials both physical and mental and emotional. Simon see's the events as paths to new things. He met his wife Lucy through his work with Weston Spirit and they have three children. Simon and Lucy have a very positive outlook on life.

James (one of Simon's children) did once remark on what had happened to his father, though he doesn't remember. He was only four or five, Simon says: "He said, 'Dad, I'll get a bomb and throw it at the man who did that to you.' So I sat him down and explained that it wasn't personal, he was only doing his job - which is what I really feel."
Simon has met up with Carlos and the two are now good friends. "he was just doing his job".
Simon's amazingly positive outlook on life and on the forgiveness that he gave to Carlos are an inspiration to us all.

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