Blind veterans at Regent's Park working in the woodwork workshop in 1915
Blind Veterans UK is founded by Sir Arthur Pearson as the Blinded Soldiers' and Sailors' Care Committee. We provide training, rehabilitation and lifelong support to those blinded in the First World War. After a short spell in Bayswater Road, London we are based in Regent’s Park.


Image of Ian Fraser in 1917
Ian Fraser, who had been blinded at the Somme, is placed in charge of our After-Care work. Now known as Welfare, this department continues to provide lifelong support and assistance for all our blind veterans following their initial training and rehabilitation activities.


A blind veterans reunion in 1920
We hold our first reunion meeting of blind veterans who have completed their training and left Regent’s Park. This takes place in Bristol, and is followed by many more throughout the country. We have held reunion meetings ever since.


Lord Pearson's funeral in 1921
Sir Arthur Pearson dies, aged only 55. Ian Fraser takes over as Chairman, a position he holds for 53 years. Pearson’s funeral service and burial are attended by thousands of people, including blind veterans who he had helped and inspired.


We officially become St Dunstan's in 1923
We formally adopt the name by which we have been generally known since our early days in Regent’s Park, officially becoming St Dunstan's.


West House in 1927
Our training and rehabilitation activities transfer from Regent's Park to our West House centre in Brighton, although our administrative headquarters remains in London.


A blind veteran listening to a talking book in 1935
Working together with the National Institute of Blind People (now the RNIB) we establish the Talking Book library.


The Brighton centre in 1938
We open a new, groundbreaking purpose-built centre at Ovingdean, Brighton. This provides training and rehabilitation activities, convalescent care and holiday breaks for our blind veterans. The centre continues its work to this day.


Blind veterans being taught manufacturing skills in 1940
We move our training and rehabilitation work from Brighton to Church Stretton in Shropshire for the remainder of the war. 700 men and women are trained here, many learning new manufacturing skills to enable them to go on to factory work.


The Brighton centre in 1946
We leave Church Stretton and return to Brighton.


Blind veterans UK London office in 1948
Our administrative headquarters moves to 191 Old Marylebone Road, London.


Her Majesty the Queen visiting Blind Veterans UK in 1952
Her Majesty the Queen becomes our Patron. This role was initially taken on by her great-grandmother Queen Alexandra soon after we were founded.


A veteran using the long cane in 1965
We collaborate with institutions in the United States on the development of the new ‘long cane’ walking stick and with the RNIB on its introduction in this country


Tony Parkinson competing in the Paralympics in 1976
 Tony Parkinson and Ray Peart are the first of our blind veterans to compete in the Paralympic Games (then known as the 'Olympiad for the Physically Disabled'), held in Toronto, Canada.


The Kurzweil reading machine in 1979
Together with the RNIB, we evaluate the Kurzweil - the first reading machine to instantly convert print into speech.


The London office in 1984
We move headquarters to our current location in Harcourt Street, London.


The queen visiting the Brighton centre in 1985
HM The Queen visits our Brighton centre to open the new South Wing. This provides additional facilities and extra accommodation for our blind veterans and their partners.


Blind veterans playing bowls in 2000
We change our constitution, expanding to allow all veterans who have lost their sight to join us, irrespective of when and how this occurred.  


Ray Hazan elected as President in 2004
Ray Hazan, who was blinded whilst serving in Northern Ireland, is elected as our President. Ray continues to hold this position and in 2012 was awarded the OBE for his services to the blind ex-service community.


The Sheffield centre in 2005
We open a new centre in Sheffield, enabling rehabilitation and training to be provided more accessibly for those of our blind veterans living in the north of the country.  


Henry Allingham passes away in 2009
Henry Allingham, the world's oldest man, who had joined us in 2005, dies peacefully at our Brighton centre at the age of 113. The funeral is held with full military honours at St Nicholas Church, Brighton.


The Llandudno centre in 2011
We open another new centre, at Llandudno in north Wales.


Blind Veterans UK new name reveal in 2012
We change name to Blind Veterans UK, to help more people understand who we are and what we do. We also launched our No One Alone campaign, to reach out to new blind veterans in need of our support.


Group celebrating the Brighton centre turning 75 years old in 2013
Our Brighton centre celebrates its 75th anniversary with many special events.


Buckingham Palace garden party in 2015
We celebrate our 100th anniversary with special events including a Buckingham Palace Garden Party and a service at Westminster Abbey


The Countess of Wessex, with Nick Caplin, Nicki Shaw and Steve Boswell, opening Life Skills Facility at Llandudno
Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO became our new Patron, as Her Royal Majesty The Queen stepped down. Her first act as Patron was to open our Life Skills building in Llandudno.


Colin Williamson - President
Ray Hazan OBE steps down as President after 13 years. Blind veteran Colin Williamson becomes the sixth Blind Veterans UK President.


Blind veterans at Regent's Park working in the woodwork workshop in 1915 Our collections and archives

What we have and how to get in touch

Talking books Resources

Online sources relating to our history

Nurses and blind veterans on a seesaw Useful links

Useful links to military, family and charity history