Help veterans like Rob march at the Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday

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

30-year-old Rob from South East London 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 Rob, to march.

Rob joined the 5th Regiment of the Royal Artillery in 2008 and went on to become a member of the Special Observation Battery. Having fulfilled his boyhood dream of a career in the army’s surveillance regiment, Rob was stationed in Afghanistan where he undertook his first operational tour.

Rob Long

"Remembrance is a time to pay your respects to all those brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price for their country. For me personally, it’s also a time to reflect on and remember my friend, Bombardier Sam Robinson, who unfortunately lost his life in the incident which robbed me of my sight.”"

Specsavers stores are helping get our 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.

In 2010 and just two months into the tour, his life changed forever when one of his unit triggered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), leaving Rob with life-threatening injuries and sadly taking the life of Bombardier Robinson.

Describing the incident, Rob recalls: “I can’t really remember much, but I do remember some of my unit shouting before I eventually blacked out. I then remember waking up in hospital, having been airlifted from the scene to Camp Bastion, and then onto Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.”

Rob’s left eye was destroyed immediately, and the right was so badly damaged that it later had to be removed in the hospital. His skull was also fractured, which resulted in a minor brain bleed and the loss of his sense of smell.

Shortly after the incident, Rob began receiving the free lifelong support provided by Blind Veterans UK, and it is through the support of the charity that Rob maintains he’s been able to remain positive. He says: “Over the past seven years Blind Veterans UK has provided me with all the help I need to get my independence back. The skills it’s equipped me with have allowed me to take on many of life’s challenges, from making a cup of tea to navigating my way through London independently.

"More importantly than that, it’s given me a support group of people who all share the common challenge of battling sight loss. That for me is another reason why marching at the Cenotaph is so special. To be able to do with it with my fellow blind veterans is an absolute honour."

You too can make sure Rob 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.