The Brave will out! The inspiring story of Tobias Gutteridge and the Bravery Organisation!
Every now and then life has a funny way of diverting your attention, and this occurred to me at the Weymouth Beach Motocross, and later the Dirt Bike Show when the Bravery brand name crept into my mind’s eye.
Something was telling me there was more to discover about this brand, and after reading some of their literature, I honed in on their friendly team at the show, dropped in my card and said I would like to learn more.
Some four weeks later I met with Bravery’s founder Tobias Gutteridge, unaware of the story I would be told, and how the brand and its owner personifies the word that they trade with.
Meeting Tobias in a garden Centre café on a gloomy Dorset day, you realise coming to meet me wasn’t the most straightforward task for him, but then taking the easy route for Tobias isn’t in his DNA.
You see Tobias is paralysed from the neck down, but this is far from a story of woe. This is a story of pure unadulterated positivity, and how one of our Moto family is using his courage and Bravery to support and inspire his kindred folk. But first, we need to go back to the beginning and let Tobias tell his remarkable story.
“I was born in South Africa and grew up there. I couldn’t help but notice the struggles of life. The poverty, gangs, the crime, and drugs that were in my country, and I knew I wanted to help people somehow.
I was a mega keen Enduro and Motocross rider in South Africa, and any chance I could I would be out on my bike or outside at the coast Surfing. I was always in the thick of it and a real outdoors type of guy, and any type of Extreme sport I would give it a go.
While I was in South Africa, I learned about the Royal Marines, and what they were doing in the world. This Elite bunch of soldiers were making a big difference in the world.
It struck a chord with me, as it’s so tough, with only 1% of the world being capable of getting in. The things they did were off the charts, and that really drew me in as a person.
When I was 20, I made the decision that a Marine was what I was going to be, and I left for the UK by myself and just a backpack and left my old world behind. I got a job stacking shelves in the Co-Op and was living in a one bedroom flat, trying to join the Marines, and just training extremely hard.
I was shitting myself really. I had hardly a penny to my name, but as it turns out I was really good; exceptionally good, and I made the marines and made my first tour of Afghanistan with 40 commandos.
I then got accepted into the Special Forces. 180 of the best people in the Armed forces, the crème de la crème applied with me, but from my course, only 8 passed, with 5 going the SAS (Special Air Service), and myself and 2 others going to the SBS (Special Boat Service) based in Poole.
In 2008 I passed Special Forces selection, and at the back end of 2009 aged 24, I was posted to Afghanistan. That’s where everything changed. I was shot through the neck which paralysed me from the neck down.
I am very lucky to be alive, and ultimately it changed my life in a big way. My career was ended, I couldn’t participate in what I loved doing, Motocross, surfing, the extreme side of life, where you get that buzz, the thrill…
After being shot, I woke in the hospital, and just thought shit, what do I do. I had worked so hard for this, and I had no idea what was going to happen next.
I had two years of recovery in Hospital, with a year just lying on my back, thinking what do I do next. I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but I had to be really brave.
There was a Winston Churchill Quote that stuck with me.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
I knew life had changed and that I would be on a machine for the rest of my life, but I was thinking how do I still carry out my mission to do good? How could I still be involved with Extreme Sports, and how could I do something positive and not fall into despair, and that’s how the word bravery came into my head.
I have always been super focussed, and I have always wanted to help people. My whole life has been dedicated to helping people. The only way I knew how to do that up until then was physically, and now I couldn’t do that.
I went to some incredibly dark places, and I had to be positive, as there were a lot of bad times, really, really bad moments.
I thought I can’t do this. This is pointless, what am I doing. I went to support groups, went to a psychiatric hospital for people with severe depression and severe mental disorders where you are watched 24-7. It was the darkest place you could ever go, and I had to pull myself out of it. Somehow I made it out of the dark side.”
If there is one thing we have already learned about Tobias is that he is one tough cookie, and emerging through the toughest of times he was back on his crusade to help people in any way he could.
In 2016 he founded the Bravery Organisation, which started trading in 2018.
“After my injury, I wondered, how do I help people? How do I be a face for good, and how can I still be part of Extreme Sports and the things I love?
I had to re-evaluate everything, and what came from it all was the need to start something with a positive message, while keeping my passion for Extreme Sports alive.
So that’s when the idea of Bravery came about, but I wanted to start a company with meaning behind it, not something generic. Bravery is a symbol more than just another brand. You wear it for a reason.
Bravery is an extreme sports apparel brand with a message behind it, ultimately we feel for the brave. Yes, our products are quality, but we want people to be behind the message, and that’s why they buy the brand rather than any other.
I am still involved in the Extreme Sports scene, at shows and events, and I am building a brand, and I am still helping people. Maybe not physically, but mentally.
We all do things where we have had to be brave in life, and I want people to wear Bravery with the knowledge they have overcome something in their life.
It could be anything that makes us feel brave, by overcoming adversity, or just stepping up to the plate when needed. It could be something when your racing, or something simple in everyday life.”
Helping people has always been at the core of Tobias’s ambitions, and that extends even further with Bravery, who are working with the Kwano charity in South Africa to help disadvantaged children who live in Poverty.
“What we are doing is not just a symbol, but a brand that does good and helps people tangibly and, a percentage of our profit goes to charitable causes.
We support the Buffalo Foundation, which has started programmes in South Africa to try and help young and disadvantaged people into sport, get them off the streets, off drugs and away from crime and back to school.
If the kids go to school, as a reward, they get to take part in different sports after their education. Our donations help to buy equipment for this like Mountain bikes, Surfboards…
The support team then goes into their homes and supports the children to try and continue their education, get jobs and positively help shape their future.
As the company grows, the more we can donate to charities, and the more we can help people in third world countries.”
As it stands, Bravery has an expanding range of apparel from Motocross and Enduro Shirts, to T-Shirts, hoodies, caps, limited edition watches, rope bracelets….
“Clothing is just the starting point as we look to grow bigger and bigger and move further into the World of Action Sports. For instance, we created a limited edition watch in collaboration with the exclusive watchmaking company Elliot Brown, which is made to fit in with Extreme lifestyles, but we have lots more plans for the future.
I am now studying for a Business Studies Degree. I like making life hard for myself and pushing myself to the limits. I feel by my starting a company I am inspiring people that they can start a business too.
I am very lucky to have some close special friends from the Special Forces and some great people who I have met through Motocross and Enduro helping me. These guys have all been amazing, and I am really excited as to what the future holds”.
One thing for sure is that you will see the Bravery name at more Off Road and Extreme Sports events this year and if you do make sure you check out their fantastic range of products and say hi, and remember fortune favours the brave.
For more information on Bravery visit their website www.bravery.org.uk