Help veterans like John march at the Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday

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

86-year-old John, Ivan to his friends, from Fleet 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 Ivan, to march.

Ivan served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) from May 1952 to May 1954, firstly as part of National Service and then as a regular serviceman. He explains: “Prior to signing up I’d received my gliding certificates as part of my membership of the Air Training Cadets. Therefore when I went into the RAF, I became Air Crew and went to Cranwell for my Air Cadet training. After I received my commission I learnt to fly and received my Private Pilot Licence along the way.”

On his time in the RAF, Ivan says: “I look back upon it very fondly. The comradeship, the challenge, everything. I had to relearn things like physics and mathematics which was fantastic as it made me think again.”

"Remembrance, for me, is about keeping in mind the horrors of the Second World War and the way in which people turned their attention to winning the war. It’s remembering the efforts and hardships of those before us and paying our respects, and most of all, making certain we don’t forget."

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.

Sadly for Ivan, in around 1995 he was told by doctors that he had age-related macular degeneration. Ivan says: “My distance is a little hazy but I’m currently waiting for an operation on my cataracts which should improve this."

After losing his sight, Ivan’s daughter, Lynne, began looking for organisations that might be able to support him. Ivan joined the charity in March of this year and is therefore looking forward to making the most of the opportunities available.

“Someone recommended Blind Veterans UK to us but I initially didn’t think I’d be eligible for its support, as I did not lose my sight as a result of my Service.

"I can’t read anything anymore, people’s faces are blurred. Come Remembrance my daughter will be my eyes."

You too can make sure Ivan and other veteran heroes 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.