A Royal Marines veteran customer from Specsavers Milton Keynes has spoken of the incredible support he has received from national military charity Blind Veterans UK since he began losing his eyesight seven years ago.

Local Hero

73-year-old Sam Jelbert spent 21 years in the Royal Marines from 1961, serving for 14 years in the regular Marines and seven years in the Royal Marines Reserves. He underwent a year’s intensive training in the UK after he joined the Royal Marines and was then posted overseas to Singapore for 18 months with 42 Commando. This was followed by tours in Malaya, Brunei, Borneo, the Falklands Islands and Cyprus as well as Yemen.

It was whilst serving aboard HMS Eskimo, the Tribal-class frigate of the Royal Navy, that Sam got the opportunity to become a diver. His duties included searching the ships hulls in the waters off of the coast of Yemen.  Following his service in the Royal Marines, Sam continued diving as it was something he had developed a passion for following his time in as a Marine.

Eye sight problems

He also moved to Milton Keynes to work in engineering and construction. Unfortunately, seven years ago, not long after he’d retired, Sam started experiencing issues with his sight. He began to find everyday tasks such as reading and writing difficult, even when wearing glasses.

Struggling, Sam visited the team at Specsavers and following tests,was diagnosed with age related macular degeneration. The eye condition has resulted in him losing all useful vision. Keen to help, the team at Specsavers in Milton Keynes put Sam get in touch with Blind Veterans UK.

Sam said: 'I am thankful that I found Blind Veterans UK through my Specsavers optician. Their support has helped me learn to live with my sight loss and allowed me to reconnect with the world. They’ve brought me out of my shell. Through Blind Veterans UK I have had the chance to try new activities, including playing bowls, archery and acoustic rifle shooting, which is a form of shooting adapted for the vision-impaired. I think it is a fantastic organisation.'

Steve Moore, store director at Specsavers Milton Keynes said: We always offer our customers information and other resources to look into when diagnosed with a life changing eye condition such as age related macular degeneration. We work closely with local and national eye-health charities and regularly receive positive feedback from our customers about the support these great organisations offer. We are delighted to hear that Sam is receiving the help he needs from Blind Veterans and continue to applaud their fantastic work.'

Blind Veterans UK services

Sam has also benefitted from the social opportunities the charity offers and from being provided with equipment. He attends an annual reunion event in St. Albans where he meets other veterans.  Sam has also been provided with white cane training by Blind Veterans UK. This helps Sam to get about during the day and means he can continue living independently in a retirement village. 

 If you are, or know of, a blind and vision impaired ex-Service man or woman who, like Sam, is now battling severe sight loss, call 0800 389 7979 or go to online now to find out how Blind Veterans UK could help.

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