Steven Price Brown served in the Grenadier Guards for an arduous tour in Afghanistan in 2012. His platoon suffered appalling losses and as advance team medic he was at the centre of the most horrific incidents. After leaving the forces he retreated to Africa but became increasingly ill. Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in October 2014 he returned to the UK but ended up homeless, living in a hostel and undergoing therapy. In October 2015, he was introduced to the military sailing charity Turn to Starboard, and discovered a new love of nature and a new purpose in life. This ultimately led to him writing Riddle of the Waves, a unique and inspiring account of the Spirit of Falmouth 2016 voyage around the UK with the Turn to Starboard crew.
“I tapped on the window to the area just outside the recording booth and the occupants sitting inside all looked up. Henry, who was from Bloomsbury and had kindly escorted and guided me through my first radio interview, seemed a little unsure about what I was up to, but you can’t let opportunities like this pass you by. Apart from moral support and a little advice, I think he was there just to make sure my nerves didn’t lead me to throw up into one of the plant pots.
Prince Harry was one of the reactors to my tap tapping.
I mimicked shaking hands through the glass and he nodded with understanding. My first interview had been a bit of a baptism of fire, an early morning chat at BBC Radio 4’s Today Program.
I was here to promote Riddle of The Waves, my debut book about a group of military veterans who had all suffered from the impact of conflicts and had decided to sail around the UK in a 92ft gaff rigged schooner, but that was only a part of it. The crew had shared their stories with me and I had included these poignant and often amazing stories about them. I really want to tell this story, how people can move on, how there is help out there.
I’d got the radio gig because our famous royal warrior was here to visit the BBC, of course having a veteran like me talk about something close to his heart seemed a nice fit. Prince Harry came out and we chatted, getting a couple of photos together – he had wanted to ask me a question whilst I was on air, but sadly time had been short so it never happened.
He asked, “What do you think the media are like with this subject?”
My sycophancy aside, it was a good question. In my opinion, the media are very supportive, I’ve so far only had positive responses, both about the subject matter and storytelling from the media.
The only thing that concerns me is that there is an underlining ‘story’, one that accuses the Forces that they don’t do enough to rehabilitate those who have suffered from military life.
It’s fair enough to think that, as is with the normal way of life, if someone is part of the cause they normally get saddled with being part of the solution. There’s not much doubt that the Forces are heavily involved in the creation of various issues, not because they want to, but because since time began war has always created casualties.
But my recovery came at sea, we, the crew, were first strangers to each other, but we slowly built trust between ourselves, being able to share stories that we generally never share.
Our boat was called Spirit of Falmouth a wonderful pilot boat that had been gifted to the charity Turn To Starboard by Prince Charles, another Royal doing his bit.
The ‘Riddle’ in the book’s title refers to the magic that seemed to happen to us over our trip. Watching people regain strength right in front of me, growing in confidence, losing the shackles of the past and start to return to the person they want to relate to, is somewhat other worldly. It also happened to me.
But then maybe it’s just the opposite, was it nature just repairing us? Being out in the ocean and so close to the elements, at the mercy of raw nature for our trip’s propulsion, we experienced something that was unique and restorative.
Sometimes it’s best not to try hard to work it out, just accept that something good has happened and let others take from it what they can, that’s what the book is about.”