80 year old blind veteran backs No One Alone campaign
6 February 2014 13:10
An 80 year old blind veteran from South Shields backs No One Alone campaign to reach other blind veterans who could be eligible for free support from Blind Veterans UK.
Pat Williams, 80 years old, from South Shields was devastated when she realised she was losing her sight and would unable to continue her work helping elderly people learn computer skills. It was only when Pat came across a TV news piece promoting the free services we offer blind veterans, was when Pat realised she could be eligible and that there was hope for an independent future.
Pat was moved to tears when she discovered, after speaking to members of staff at Blind Veterans UK in Llandudno, that she would be able to resume her much loved hobby of computer training.
Pat says: "I was walking through the living room one day in July 2012 when I heard a news piece on TV about veterans being able to have computer training despite being blind. Of course my natural question was what is this all about, and I listened further to discover that they were talking about a charity that used to be called St Dunstan's but had recently changed its name to Blind Veterans UK. Someone on the programme said that you had to have served in the Armed Forces to be eligible for its services and I couldn't believe it, because I had!"
Pat was born in 1933 and joined the Women's Royal Army Corps (TA) aged 19. Pat served in Armed based throughout the UK for a period of three years. But it wasn't until many years after her time in service that she lost her sight as a result of glaucoma. As an ex Service woman, Pat was able to apply for free support from Blind Veterans UK.
Pat says: "When I joined the charity it was a great relief. I first visited its Llandudno centre and it was just wonderful, I couldn't believe the level of support they provided, and for free!
"It was there that I went, with my husband, for my week-long induction. They really are the nicest people you could hope to meet. Everyone is on first name terms with everyone else. There is such a warmth and friendliness about the place, it made it so easy to blend in and feel part of it all. In that first week I felt so happy and at ease it was as though I had been there for a long time."
Given research findings, the National Service generation of men, who are now in their 70s and 80s, are shown to be a majority number of the 68,000 blind veterans out there who are trying to cope with a severe sight problem and unaware that their time in the forces, however brief or long ago, means they are eligible for our free support.
Grateful for the support she has received from Blind Veterans UK, Pat has lent her support the No One Alone campaign, wanting others to be able to benefit from the same support that she has had.
Pat says: "Each new blind veteran joining the charity gets allocated a ROVI [Rehabilitation Officer for the Vision Impaired]. Mine was called Cath and she was just lovely. Each day I met with her during that week, I found out or was shown something new that could help me. It was just unbelievable. I had initially said that what I wanted was to learn how to use a computer again, which I did, and it was a very moving, overwhelming experience when it happened. But in addition to this, I have been given all sorts of other gadgets and tools too, such as a talking watch and a talking phone, which was just amazing.
"Blind Veterans UK has opened up a whole new world to me. My husband and I now socialise with the other blind veterans we have met, and we now have many new friends. Blind Veterans UK has simply opened up a new lease of life to me. Its support has been life changing. They have given me so much self confidence."
If you are or know of a veteran with vision impairment, request free support by calling 0800 389 7979.