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.

71-year-old John from Weston-Super-Mare 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 John, to march.

John was inspired by his uncle to join the Royal Air Force in 1962 when he was just 15 years old. He began his career as a as a Boy Entrant Cook and trained at RAF Credenhill before moving to RAF Colerne near Bath. He later remastered as a Senior Catering Clerk and was sent to Cyprus to RAF Episkopi. John retired in 1988 as a Sergeant.

"I think of my father who served in World War Two and of the human tragedy of these conflicts. Unless we take up the mantle to remember them then there’s a risk that memory will fade – and that’s something that should never happen. I can think of no greater honour than marching on behalf of Blind Veterans UK and being a symbol of our country’s national unit of Remembrance”."

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.

John lost his sight gradually, due to age-related macular degeneration. It was an experience he found unsettling, having always prided himself on his independence. John says: “It was terrifying when I was told I would lose my sight, because I didn’t know how I would work or get about without being able to drive. It was a very difficult period.”

John discovered Blind Veterans UK while volunteering for Vision North Somerset. He started receiving support in 2014 and took an introduction week at one of the charity’s rehabilitation centres to help him adjust to his sight loss.

John is the secretary for the charity's ‘Get Out And Live’ (GOAL) group. He goes to the charity’s centres with a group of veterans to take part in activities such as bowling, rock climbing and go-karting. He’s currently busy planning the group’s holiday in Llandudno next year.

John says: “The support has been amazing. I’ve received equipment like ZoomText for my PC, which means I can carry on using my computer for my volunteering and to keep in touch with friends. But the most amazing thing has been the people I’ve met, both staff and other beneficiaries.”

"Being with Blind Veterans UK is like being back in the Forces, that sense of camaraderie is always there and because we are all in the same boat I don’t have the excuse of saying I can’t do things because of my sight."

You too can make sure John 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.