Simon Harmer Keynote Speaker
- Combat Medical Technician in the British Army
- Active service included two tours of Bosnia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan
- Expert in overcoming adversity
Simon Harmer's Biography
Simon Harmer has experienced a full and varied career spanning sixteen years as a Combat Medic in the British Army. In October 2009 his career took a different direction. Whilst serving on the front line in Afghanistan with 1 Battalion The Coldstream Guards, he sustained life changing injuries. He is now a double amputee who has decided not to be defined by his injuries.
His active service included two tours of Bosnia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan. Sgt Harmer has enjoyed several different postings which included working with a Territorial Army Field Hospital in Cardiff and as a Permanent Staff Instructor to training recruits, both as a Section Commander and a Troop Sergeant, at Army Training Regiment Winchester. The Army has taken him all over the world from the open plains of Alberta, Canada to the polar circle in Kiruna, Sweden.
After being injured Simon spent five weeks in Selly Oak having many operations on his right arm and what remained of his legs. He ended up with a left above knee amputation, a right below knee amputation and intervention to save the use of his right arm. After discharge from Selly Oak he started rehabilitation at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court near Epsom, Surrey. Incredibly, he was walking on prosthetic legs less than two months after being injured.
Since being injured he has taken part in a number of challenges; adaptive skiing five months after being injured, riding across northern France on a hand bike to raise money for charity, completing the Race Across America as part of an eight-man team, completing a half IronMan and swimming Lake Windermere. In recent years, Simon has become a keen open water swimmer and is passionate about introducing new swimmers to the thrill of cold water, and enabling people of all abilities to enjoy its benefits. Simon hasn’t just survived, he’s thrived, motivated to do so as a ‘thank you’ to those who helped him.
The bravery to apply his profession in the harshest of environments is testament to his selfless dedication to both the armed forces and medicine. Simon has not allowed his injuries to diminish his unwavering strength of character as he embarks on a life that, although he did not choose, he will embrace. This ability to overcome life-changing adversity is something that, albeit on a far lesser scale, resonates with all who hear him speak. Simon truly is an incredibly inspiring speaker and has spoken to audiences across Europe, including at TEDx, Facebook London, The Royal Ballet School, Northampton Saints Rugby Club, amongst others.
There are several areas that Simon has a unique view on; he talks about his career, what happened to him and how, with help, he managed to piece his life back together.
- Clinicians in the NHS and the Armed Forces: As a Combat Medic, Simon treated battlefield injuries, and after being ‘wounded in action’, he received life-saving treatment. He has experienced both sides of the stretcher and shares his thoughts on this subject,
- Not Giving Up: Simon’s injuries haven’t stopped him finding ways to get outside and enjoy being active. A crucial part of his recovery was attempting activities that he previously enjoyed.
- Finding Your Passion: Simon has become a keen open water swimmer since 2011. He Completed the River Dart 10km, swam around Brownsea Island and finished the Windermere One Way. He speaks passionately about the unique benefits of swimming outdoors for people of all abilities.