A blind veteran from Derby marched at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday this year with the help of military charity, Blind Veterans UK and his local Specsavers.
Gary Stevenson, 50 from Spondon, attended the commemoration, hosted by Blind Veterans UK, only with the fundraising support of Specsavers in Derby. He joined 100 other veterans on the all-expenses paid trip, which cost £900 per person.
Themed store event
The team at Specsavers in the Intu Centre held a red-and-white with a red flower themed event in store to raise money and awareness towards Gary’s trip. They welcomed visitors into store with home baked cakes in return for a donation to charity. They also sold raffle tickets on the day to win a selection of prizes.
A word from the store director
Uan Gohil, store director, said: ‘Blind Veterans UK provides crucial support to those who have either lost or had their sight damaged while representing our country in the armed forces.
'The charity works tirelessly to give its members their independence back and helps them discover a life beyond sight loss. We are proud to lend our support to ensure that Gary paid his respects to his fallen comrades by marching to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.
In 1989, Gary joined the Royal Corps of Transport as a stevedore and served in Norway and in Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War.
It was years later, in 2009, that Gary lost his sight. After several months’ of feeling unwell, Gary was advised by his GP that he had mumps. Soon after this, despite feeling on the mend, Gary had a stroke in the middle of the night. He said: ‘When I woke up that morning, I couldn’t see a thing. From that moment on, I was blind.
Gary was rushed to hospital where he discovered that he had meningitis, an illness which ultimately robbed Gary of his vision.
Gary has been receiving support from Blind Veterans UK since 2015 and has been to IT training sessions and received specialist free equipment to help him with his sight loss. He has also taken part in the LifeWorks course at the Blind Veterans UK Llandudno centre, which helps younger veterans to get back into work.
Gary said: ‘The training Blind Veterans UK has given me has really made a big difference. I’m in the process of deciding what career path I’d like to go down but thanks to Blind Veterans UK I feel more confident and certain of what I would enjoy doing.’
About Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK was established in 1915 by founder of the Daily Express and former owner of the Evening Standard, Sir Arthur Pearson after he lost his own sight to glaucoma.
Nearly a century later, Blind Veterans UK not only cares for ex-service men and women blinded in action, but for veterans who have lost their sight through accident, illness or old age.
The charity provides residential and respite care plus sports facilities, as well as qualified welfare staff who help blind veterans across the UK to live independently within their own communities.