A PARALYSED veteran has opened his first extreme sports café and store in Poole

Former Marine, Toby Gutteridge, has opened his first flagship café and store in Lagland Street, Poole, after eight months of preparation. 

Launched in December, the café and shop is part of Toby's first steps to build his clothing brand, Bravery, which he believes encapsulates his story. 

Toby said: "I grew up in the culture of surfing, skating and a lot of motocross and I didn't come from a good family so these sports were my outlet. 

"I had been to prison a few times and I wasn't doing well so I moved to the UK and joined the Marines before the Special Forces which moved me to Poole." 

Serving as a soldier in Afghanistan in 2009, Toby was shot in the neck and instantly paralysed for life. 

He said after he became paralysed, he lost a sense of direction and became suicidal.

He said: "I didn't know who I was anymore, things started spiralling out of control and I had a lot mental issues and contemplated assisted suicide.

"I remembered things that gave me joy and I started thinking about how can I combine that and a future for myself."

Toby returned to school to build the skills needed to start a business and studied his GCSEs and A-Levels before he graduated from Bournemouth University in 2018. 

Now, Bravery is a fully fledged company which sells apparel, skateboards and even surfboards.

Toby said: "I chose the word bravery because I had to be incredibly brave through some moments. I never thought this would be possible.

"Instead of the bottom line of the company being about money or selling an energy drink, we want to sell purpose. We want to sell bravery." 

Toby hopes the café is the first of many he wants to create and hosts several community events including veteran groups. 

Meticulously designed by himself, the launch event had stars such as former football manager Harry Redknapp show support.