Brian Davies, ex-RAF engine mechanic and was stationed around the UK, during his two years before being discharged in 1957. But some 20 years after leaving the RAF, Brian began to notice his eyesight worsening in his left eye and he was left with just peripheral vision. Another 20 years on, a blood vessel ruptured in Brian’s right eye, leading to a further deterioration of his vision.
Brian said: ‘At first, they didn’t know why my left eye had started to go, but I was told there would be a chance that the rest of my sight would go too. Then, when it eventually did, I didn’t take it very well.’
Chance Specsavers visit
Despite losing his sight many years after leaving military service, Brian was eligible for sight loss support from national charity Blind Veterans UK – although he didn’t realise this until he visited his local Specsavers store in Middlesbrough.
‘It was by pure chance that I found out about Blind Veterans UK. I’d lost my magnifying specs, so I rang the hospital, and they referred me to Specsavers. I went straight there and they replaced my glasses. They also asked me if I’d ever served in the Armed Forces and I replied that I had done National Service. They told me all about Blind Veterans UK and encouraged me to get in touch.”
No-one should be alone
Specsavers works with Blind Veterans UK to raise awareness of the charity’s No One Alone campaign, which is reaching out to the estimated 68,000+ blind and vision impaired veterans who may be eligible for support but are not currently receiving it. By telling customers about Blind Veterans UK and referring veterans to the charity, Specsavers is helping many veterans, like Brian, to receive vital emotional and practical support.
Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins said: ‘We are delighted to be able to support Blind Veterans UK in continuing its very worthwhile work. The charity provides life-changing support to blind veterans, with the wonderful ethos that if they served their country then they do not have to battle blindness alone.’
Brian contacted Blind Veterans UK in 2014 and has since received vital services and support to help him live independently with sight loss. He has visited the charity’s service centre in Sheffield, where he has received specialist equipment, training and emotional support to help him relearn vital life skills, including being able to get back in the kitchen again - one of the main things that Brian has missed since losing his sight.
Brian said: ‘Blind Veterans UK has been very good to me – it is a brilliant organisation. I’ve done all sorts of training, I’ve learned how to use a computer and they’ve taught me to use a white cane properly. They’ve fitted me out with all kinds of gadgets, and I’ve just been for a week of training at the Sheffield centre to help me in the kitchen.
‘I’ve definitely improved in the kitchen. I was getting a bit fed up with microwave cooking all of the time. Now, I’ve become a lot more confident and I can cook properly again. Blind Veterans UK has taught me how to make a curry and spaghetti bolognese from scratch!”
How you can help
Blind Veterans UK has three centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales as well as network of welfare officers across the UK, providing veterans with specialist training, equipment, rehabilitation and emotional support to help them relearn valuable life skills and discover life beyond sight loss. If you are, or know an ex-service man or woman now battling severe sight loss, contact Blind Veterans UK for free, lifelong support by calling 0800 389 7979.