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Achieving triumph over adversity

Falklands War veteran Simon Weston CBE was our guest of honour at this year’s excellence events and spoke passionately about overcoming challenges and accepting change.

In their ninth year, these events are an opportunity to celebrate our employees and supply chain colleagues; to recognise and acknowledge their commitment to making a difference, challenging the norm, using innovation and collaboration to safely deliver on all aspects of our mission.

The skill in life is to identify opportunities; invest in yourself and believe you can make a difference. You’re the best investment you’ve got.

The theme this year was “Delivering excellence through change”. With reprocessing set to end by 2020, we’re embarking on the biggest change in a generation. Increasing focus will be placed on decommissioning and environmental restoration activities on site. The guest speaker, Simon Weston, spoke about what it takes to triumph over adversity. His message was one of single-minded determination, to not only accept what is, but to turn that to your advantage.

Simon was a Welsh Guardsman on board HMS Sir Galahad when it was bombed in June 1982 during the Falklands War. He suffered severe burn injuries to 46 percent of his body, and endured many years of reconstructive surgery and numerous operations. “People say I was unlucky. I feel lucky, I came back alive. Forty-eight people who were with me on that day would have taken my luck.”

His injuries were so severe that when he was wheeled into the transit hospital at RAF Lyneham he passed his mother in the corridor and she didn’t recognise him: “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!” As she recognised my voice her face turned to stone.”

Simon emphasised how important it is to invest in yourself and believe that you can make a difference. “It’s not about what you have in life – it’s about what you’re prepared to do with it. I accepted change in the most drastic fashion. I had to reinvent myself. The skill in life is to identify opportunities; invest in yourself and believe you can make a difference. You’re the best investment you’ve got.”

Simon has made a difference to so many people’s lives and continues to inspire others. Following his injuries and more than 70 operations, Simon’s road to recovery saw him achieve a number of highly successful ventures including ‘Weston Spirit’, a Liverpool-based young people’s charity.

Attendees found his talk inspiring: “In my eight years here that was the best talk I have had the pleasure of listening to. Hugely interesting, motivational and thought-provoking; it was a privilege to listen to Simon Weston and I took away a lot about how to perceive change.”

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Learn live

Via a live web feed, Simon addressed around 1,000 pupils from nine schools across the north west including four Cumbrian schools; Whitehaven Academy, St Benedict’s, Energy Coast UTC and Furness Academy. He went on to tell them they could achieve anything they set their minds on if they work hard enough. He talked about his past, from his early days when he fell into the wrong crowd, his emergence as a talented rugby player, his time in the army and his well-documented experience of overcoming his injuries from the Falklands War and the effects this had on him and his family.

He said: “I have to work harder at 55 than I ever thought I would be as I didn’t invest in myself at school. “Don’t let anyone shatter your dreams or stop you believing that you can achieve anything you want.”