Hi, I’m Simon Weston.
Unfortunately I have firsthand experience of what explosions and fire can do when
I was aboard the troop ship Sir Galahad, when it was hit by a 500lb bomb.
The date was June 8, 1982 and the place was named rather inappropriately I feel –
‘Port Pleasant’ which it wasn’t on that day I can assure you.
I actually saw the bomb coming directly at us. It smacked into the bulkhead where
my section were playing cards. In seconds it was like Hiroshima, everyone was on
fire including myself.
My friends lay about ablaze and dying, I looked at my hands they were melting in
front of me.
I was blinded by smoke and confusion, I got small waft of fresh air and knew it was
my only chance, I charged through the fires towards what I hoped would be safety,
I ran and collapsed into friendly arms who beat out the flames.
Out of thirty men in my platoon, eight of us survived, all of us in a mess.
The affects of those few moments will last forever.
Physically I’m as good as I’ll ever be. Mentally, I’ll leave that for you to decide.
75+ major operations and surgical procedures.
I am the new reconstructed Simon Weston.
I had gone as low as anyone could go and came through the other end with renewed
purpose, life had a slightly different meaning and I value those around me more than
you could imagine.
Anyway, my life has turned around and I now have a renewed vigour, I enjoy life,
I love my wife and my children.
But, my experiences have helped me understand how difficult life can be. You can
create a new life, you can create a niche where you do fit and you can enjoy life
My new found life has created an unexpected opportunity, my courage (well everyone
calls it that) has enabled me to help others.
It has also empowered me with respect and dare I say it some semblance of influence.
I am using this influence to support all my friends in the military, to help them
get through tough times, and to try to ensure they are provided with the best technology
In the modern battlefield our troops are subjected to a myriad of dastardly and despicable
devices that cause death and physical harm.
These devices are designed to deter, cause maximum inconvenience and to slow down
large scale enemy advancement.
They target people and vehicles.
Many remain dangerous long after the conflict has ceased for which they were deployed,
killing and injuring civilians, and rendering land impassable and unusable for decades.
Anti-personnel landmines or APL’s are widely considered to be unethical weapons because
their victims are commonly civilians.
Explosive landmines were being used as far back as 1277 AD by the Song Dynasty Chinese
against an assault of the Mongols, who were besieging a city in southern China.
The estimated number of new landmine casualties each year: 15,000 to 20,000
There are in excess of 110 million landmines in the ground on every continent.
It will cost in excess of £20 Billion to remove only these mines (if no others are
planted), which, under present de-mining rates will take 1,100 years to clear?
Despite our civilised world, there are 2.5 million New landmines laid each year!
An IED is an improvised explosive device. This is a homemade bomb constructed and
deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. They can be constructed
of conventional military explosives or an array of chemicals, some which can be found
in the local supermarket.
IED’s are used in terrorist actions or in unconventional warfare by guerrillas or
commando forces in a theater of operations.
They have been responsible for over 40% of coalition deaths in Iraq.
They are sometimes also known as roadside bombs.
IED’s are not new and they are designed to be lethal.
They can be detonated just like landmines, but they can also be set off remotely
and electronically, carried aboard vehicles or strapped to the human body to create
the suicide bomber.
My experiences have led me to inspire and motivate those who have been affected by
or are suffering from life changing events. Not just in the battlefield arena, but
in the civilian environment.
Our troops undertake a responsibility on behalf of our country and in defence of
our people and understand the threats they encounter.
Many suffer death, and many suffer debilitating injuries which alter their entire
Many people in the civilian environment including policeman, fireman, the security
services and many others place their lives and health at risk for our benefit.
I believe it is our duty to ensure that we provide those who are prepared to protect
us with all and any technologies at their disposal.
Fewer than one third of military personnel are satisfied with the vehicles and helicopters
available to do their job.
Inquests have been told of troops being denied potentially life-saving and battle
ready equipment – including night-vision goggles, adequate machine guns, grenade
launchers and armoured vehicles.
Landmine clearance has become extremely expensive and whilst some methods are efficient
they leave the land barren and contaminated. (http://maic.jmu.edu/JOURNAL/11.2/feature/morin/morin.htm)
Uncontested priority is given to efficient and effective mine clearance, rather than
on the environmental contamination it causes.
My life has lead me to encourage businesses and entrepreneur’s to develop innovative
ideas to support and defend our armed forces and anyone threatened by IED’s and ERW
and to ensure that the process is environmentally the best option available.
I came across Airolusion Ltd and their innovative Vorsphere range of blast containment
devices which offers a portable bomb containment devices that are utilised for landmine
clearance and the safe removal and containment of IED’s and ERW.
It is probably not as quick as other forms of landmine clearance, but it ensures
that the environment, vegetation and water supplies remain uncontaminated which should
be our main priority for us and future generations.
The Vorsphere range is cost effective and requires minimal operational skill and
can be used in conjunction with extended manipulators and ROV’s (Robotically Operated
Vehicles) ensuring it is risk free.
The Vorsphere is also ideal for the security services in the civilian environment
to deposit and contain terrorist IED’s and suspicious packages and letters.
It is perfect as a blast proof litterbin to provide protection for the public in
the high street, open air events, exhibitions and sporting events like the Olympics.
We should all press our politicians to provide equipment such as the Vorsphere to
ensure the protection of our troops, those suffering in landmine infected areas and
the public in general.
Our safety must come first.
Too many people are hurt unnecessarily because finance was not available, priorities
where elsewhere, decisions could not be made and there were too many fingers in the
We should have Vorsphere’s available for our troops in action, accessible to those
threatened by landmines and placed strategically throughout our cities and parks
and on hand to protect us at music and sporting events.
We shouldn’t have to wait to be protected and we shouldn’t be able find out that
some new technologies are not being utilised because of cost restraints. Our protection
must be paramount.
Simon Weston OBE
7th September 2009