Help veterans like Simon march at the Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday
Local veteran Simon is getting set to march at the Cenotaph in London with more than 100 other of his blind veteran comrades.
38-year-old Simon from Leeds 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 Simon, to march.
Simon joined the Army in May 1997 as a mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. It was almost 11 years ago, when he was a Corporal on tour in Iraq that Simon’s life changed forever.
"It is always very emotional and during the two minutes’ silence I think about my time in the Service and all the people I served with. My mind particularly goes to the family of a great friend and mentor who sadly lost his life in Service for his country."
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.
On 6 December 2006, after Simon had successfully led a mission to rescue six stranded soldiers in Basra, he was shot in the face by a sniper. The bullet entered Simon’s left cheek and exited through his right, causing severe facial injuries. Simon was given emergency treatment in Basra and put into an induced coma. Seventeen days later, Simon woke up in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, where he was told that his left eye was destroyed and there was little hope for sight in his right eye.
"That was the point when my world fell apart. When I heard the four words, ‘You’ve lost your sight,’ it sounded to me like my life was over."
Fortunately Simon found out about Blind Veterans UK and started to receive free practical support from the charity. This included a rehabilitation programme to help him adjust to sight loss and go on to live independently.
"As well as all the invaluable and practical support offered by Blind Veterans UK, it was the sense of belonging and understanding from its community that's really helped me stay positive."
You too can make sure Simon 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.
Simon says: “It is a huge privilege to march with veterans and Service personnel from all generations and conflicts. We have a shared sense of being and are all there for the same reason. A massive thank you from all of us has to go to Blind Veterans UK and the Specsavers stores that make it possible.
Help our veterans pay their respects
"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.