After 18 years in the British Army, Steven Kelly was diagnosed with a disease in his eye and faced discharge from the armed forces. Steven tells The Industry Leaders how he refused to listen to doubters and, instead, set up a bushcraft survival company.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
So I am a full-time soldier serving in 29 Commando Regiment with 18 years of service. After being diagnosed with a disease in my right eye, I faced potential discharge from the army career on medical grounds.
During this period of uncertainty, I came up with the idea to motivate and inspire the next generation to get outside and enjoy the outdoors by sharing the skills I have acquired throughout my service.
What kind of work does your role involve?
We are a survival and bushcraft company with a military spin. We help children and adults step out of their comfort zone and do things they thought they would never do, like eating insects!
We motivate and inspire the next generation to get outside and enjoy the outdoors by teaching them how to work as a team and problem solve. We teach people how to stay alive if they are ever lost or injured.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Activities like those we do in Survival Skills sessions bring out the real you and help you encounter problems closely. You get to experience a new version of yourself and identify areas to improve yourself!
South West Survival offers realistic courses that help to adapt and overcome what nature has to offer. It is not about surviving but actually thriving in these situations, which builds up a new level of confidence in people.
The dying artform of Bushcraft skills is something that you carry in your mind and muscles and something that no one can steal from you.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Never ever give up on your dreams and goals. There are so many people out there who will laugh at you. But if you never quit, you will have the last laugh.
What, or who inspires you?
My daughter Chloe inspires me. She is the reason I get out of bed every day to chase my dreams and goals. I want to give her a life that I never had as a child.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I follow the people who are 'doing the do'. Remember, success leaves clues, so I follow people like Bear Grylls and Ed Stafford on their socials.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Setting up my company South West Survival, when I was potentially getting discharged from the British Army. Not many people had hope for me, and I had the same comments saying, go and get a normal job. But I didn't listen.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Truthfully, I would report the ticket as lost to the lottery, and hopefully, the owner comes forward to get his winnings.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I like to get out for a walk in the local woods. I find that's great for clearing the mind.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I wish companies in the industry would collaborate a bit more and help each other out.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I don't actually read much, to be honest. But what I do is listen to a lot of motivational stories on YouTube.
How should people connect with you?
You can reach me via any of the following:
Instagram - www.instagram.com/survival_ste
Twitter - www.twitter.com/survival_ste
TikTok - https://www.tiktok.com/@survival_ste
website - www.southwestsurvival.co.uk
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