Help veterans like Andy march at the Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday

Local veteran Andy is getting set to march at the Cenotaph in London with more than 100 other of his blind veteran comrades.

61-year-old Andy from Mansfield is being supported to do this by his local Specsavers stores. The stores are raising money from 6 – 12 November to send blind veterans, including Andy, to march.

Andy served as a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy from 1973 to 1986.  He served at HMS Fisgard, HMS Cardiff, HMS Edinburgh, HMS Caledonia and HMS Kent and worked as a mechanical engineer, and later as an instructor in engineering and maintenance for new recruits.

Andy says: “I was a sea cadet who had always dreamed of being in the Royal Navy and it didn’t disappoint. I made good friends and I really enjoyed my work as an engineer. It was an experience that set me up well for later life, both in terms of the discipline and the independence it fostered.”

 

"I served during the time of the Falklands War, and it’s that period I think of during Remembrance. I taught a number of engineers who went out and served there. I’ve never marched at the Cenotaph before so this is a dream come true for me."

Specsavers stores are helping get blind veterans to the march

Specsavers has supported Blind Veterans UK since 2012 and, as well as raising money for our charity, has referred a number of customers so they too can access our support.

This support is crucial.

Andy began to lose his sight due to glaucoma in 1994, and he was told by doctors that unless he underwent a series of operations he was likely to become completely blind. Andy has since undertaken treatment to slow the progression of his sight loss, but it has had an impact on his life.

Andy says: “I felt very frustrated initially and I didn’t want to admit it was happening. I feel grateful that treatment means I still have some vision, but it has affected me. For instance now I have to plan things well in advance because I can’t drive.”

Andy found out about the support of Blind Veterans UK through his father-in-law, who served in the Royal Tank Regiment. He joined the charity in 2014. He took an induction week at one of the charity’s rehabilitation centres, and has also taken a course in woodturning, which he particularly enjoyed.

"It was absolutely amazing to get hands on in a way I thought my sight loss would stop be from doing. Blind Veterans UK has been absolutely fantastic. I was greeted as though I was a member of the family and had been known to them for years. The staff even gave me some equipment to take home - woodturning supplies, a talking watch, a tape measure and talking pen for labelling food items."

You too can make sure Andy and other veterans get to the Cenotaph

Book an eye test at your local Specsavers in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday or pop by and add loose change into their donation buckets. You might even be able to get involved with an in-store event. Call your local store or ask in store for more details.

Your support means that we can cover the costs of sending our veterans to Remembrance Sunday. 

From transport, to providing wheelchairs for those of our veterans who are less mobile and even hosting a lunch after the ceremony. Thank you for enabling blind veterans from across the country to meet, share their stories and support one another.

"Remembrance Sunday is always a very poignant time for our blind veterans and it is fantastic that Specsavers are able to support them to march at the Cenotaph."
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin

Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss.

Today, Blind Veterans UK supports more blind and vision-impaired veterans than ever before in the charity’s history and we have set an ambitious target to double the number of veterans we support in the next five years.

The charity estimates that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access our specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.