Paralysed former soldier puts workshy to shame

Toby Guttridge – founder of Bravery

A Special Forces soldier who was shot through the neck and is paralysed from the head down has astonished the medical profession by building himself a fast-growing brand – called Bravery.

Toby Gutteridge, now 38, was never supposed to live, let alone turn himself into an entrepreneur.

Toby Gutteridge on the day he received his Royal Marines green beret

He is permanently ventilated and ought to be existing in a hospice-style environment. But he refuses to let his condition stop him.

His brand pushes a ‘kick-ass’ philosophy and is unique because of the story behind it.

Toby wants to spread the message that anything is possible and people shouldn’t hold back, but go after what they want.

Bravery sells various clothing and outdoor products and has been endorsed by football manager Harry Redknapp and a number of other celebrities including SAS TV star Jason Fox.

With former football manager Harry Redknapp

With former football manager Graeme Souness

Toby was just 24 in 2009 when he was shot in Afghanistan. His SBS colleagues assumed he was dead.

Miraculously he wasn’t, but medics gave him little chance of long-term survival and at one point it was advised that his life support should be turned off.

Struggling to come to terms with his situation, the former thrill-seeking adrenaline junky seriously considered taking his own life.

But summoning his boyhood motto ‘never will I die’, he made a decision to make the most of his life.

He took some GCSEs and A Levels and completed a degree in Operations Management, and in 2016 registered the company name Bravery.

It is based in a huge converted warehouse in Poole, Dorset, where there is a café and hub, and the products are also sold through a website.

Toby said: “I was into all the thrill-seeking stuff; extreme sports, surfing, dirt bikes – then the injury took it all away.

“I thought how can I pick myself back up and stay involved in those things? And that was how Bravery was born.

“It has given me a new lease of life and a purpose. It is a cool, California-style brand and I want to build it into the next Red Bull.

“It is a kick-ass, on-trend brand that encourages people to get out and achieve what they want.

“I have slipped through death’s fingers so many times, I take nothing for granted and I am just grateful. You have to live your best life.

“Bravery is about strength of mind and just wanting to contribute to society. I was shot in 2009 and didn’t get out of hospital until the end of 2011.

“It took me four years to get over the devastation and the dark side of the injury. It got to the point where I wanted to end it all and I was admitted to The Priory.

“It was hugely frustrating learning patience and re-training my brain. I am permanently ventilated and need 24 hour care.

“But in 2015 I decided to make something of my life, so I took my exams and started the company while doing a business degree.

“I managed to secure funding through loans and grants, found premises in Poole and had a website built.

“All the products are unique to Bravery and include surf boards and wetsuits, which all made by leading manufacturers to our design.

“There are male and female clothing ranges and we sell sunglasses, bracelets backpacks, surf wax, skateboard decks, and we are adding British-made products all the time.

“We have a café in the building as a way of getting people in and upstairs are offices where I work from.

Toby and fiancee Savanah

“I also sell my book called ‘Never will I die’, and writing that helped me come to terms with my situation.”

Never Will I Die – by Toby Gutteridge.

Toby lives near Poole with his fiancée Savannah who he met she applied for a job to look after him.

Toby Gutteridge aged seven or eight at a swimming gala in South Africa

Toby Gutteridge aged seven – already in miliary attire.

Toby Gutteridge aged five on his first bike.

Toby Gutteridge aged about three

Toby Gutteridge aged 13 finishing an open swim in South Africa

Toby Gutteridge in training for his special forces selection