Veteran Portchester soldier praised for bravery battles coronavirus to keep businesses going
A DECORATED war hero heralded for his bravery during his time as a soldier has turned his gaze to a new front line – the battle against the coronavirus.
Afghanistan veteran Simon Poland has been fighting to rid gyms and workplaces of Covid-19 to help them safely stay open during the pandemic.
The work is part of the dad-of-two’s new business, South Coast Cleaning and Property Care, which he ‘took a leap of faith in’ and set up in September 2019.
And since the Covid-19 outbreak began, the 38-year-old from Portchester has been doing his bit to keep the country moving.
Putting himself on the line, Simon and his small team slip into full industrial protective kit most days to deep-clean properties.
They have also helped to deliver food to schools and the elderly across the south during the peak of the pandemic, volunteering as NHS first responders when work was slow.
‘It’s been really rewarding,’ said Simon, who served in Northern Island, Bosnia and Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. ‘I’m incredibly proud that we have been able to keep things safe and instil confidence in people who perhaps were worried about things.
‘I know through my experiences with the army that life at times can be tough, so it’s important for me that I’m able to go round and support others in the community.’
Simon is no stranger to danger; in 2003 he was awarded a Queen’s commendation for bravery for his part in rescuing people from a burning factory moments before it collapsed.
Aged just 19 at the time, Simon had been mobilised with 3,000 other soldiers to provide fire cover during the firefighter strike in November, 2002.
He was scrambled to combat a huge inferno which had engulfed a factory in West Bromwich and was threatening to spread to a nearby petrol station.
He and a fellow soldier, Lance Corporal Ryan Davies, risked their lives to battle the flames and buy time for people to be evacuated.
‘The whole place was going up,’ he said. ‘As the building was coming down we ran out of oxygen. But gas cylinders were about to blow up, so we stayed to pull them out.’
Simon, who served 11 years in the army before beginning a civilian career as a teacher, added his new business was now going from ‘strength to strength’ and praised the community for helping him through some of the tough, early months.
In particular, he thanked owners of Southsea Beach Café, Copnor’s Renegades Gym and Southsea-based forces charity All Call Sign.
He added: ‘It was a dark period for the first few months. I was trying to keep busy and keep my mind active. But financially it was quite tough. But having the drive and perseverance from the army and having good people around me – like the guys from the Southsea Beach Cafe, Renegades Gym and All Call Signs – really helped me to work through it.
‘Now we’re going from strength to strength. We’ve worked on some quite big projects and on Monday we’re going up to the Shard for work there.’
Simon added his firm stood ready to help sanitise shops, pubs and businesses in preparation for the end of the second national lockdown, on December 2.
To contact him, call 07788 589294 or email [email protected]