A Mother’s love: mum to blind veteran thanks our charity for vital support
This Mother’s Day, the mum of a veteran from Liversedge who lost his sight to a brain tumour, is calling on other mothers of ex-Service men and women to contact us for free support.
When Elizabeth Heaume’s son, 34-year-old Army veteran Mark, discovered he had a brain tumour in 2006, their lives were turned upside down.
Mark signed up to the Army in December 1998 at 16 years old. He served as a Lance Corporal in the UK and Germany working with the Challenger 2 tank as a crewman and was discharged eight years later.
Elizabeth, 66, says: “I should have known something wasn’t right because Mark started to have headaches that would keep him up all night. At first we thought it was just a virus but then Mark became really sick. He deteriorated in front of my eyes. It was scary to watch.”
Mark was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour called a colloid cyst. His condition got worse and he fell into a coma. When he woke up from the coma, Mark was told that the tumour had robbed him of his sight.
Elizabeth says: “Mark was depressed when he came out of hospital. He would get so frustrated that he couldn’t do what he used to be able to. He would just sit in the corner of his room and wouldn’t move all day.”
Fortunately, in 2012 a friend told Elizabeth about Blind Veterans UK and she got in touch with the charity on behalf of her son. Mark started to receive the charity’s free services and lifelong support in May 2012.
Elizabeth says: “When Blind Veterans UK told me they would support Mark for the rest of his life, I cried. It felt as if a weight had been lifted. I know that the charity will always be there for my son and that is a huge relief.”
Mark was invited to one of the charity’s training and rehabilitation centres where he was given vital practical and emotional support to help him to discover life beyond sight loss.
Elizabeth says: “I was amazed when I visited the Blind Veterans UK centre in Llandudno with Mark. All of the staff there are kind and helpful. Nothing is too much trouble for them.”
Since that first visit, Mark has gone to the Llandudno centre many times to learn new skills and try out different activities. Through Blind Veterans UK Mark has had the opportunity to try abseiling, rock-climbing, kayaking and archery.
Elizabeth says: “I am so proud of everything Mark has achieved since he lost his sight. Thanks to Blind Veterans UK he has his confidence back. I don’t know how we would have managed without their support.”
This Mother’s Day Elizabeth is encouraging other relatives of Armed Forces and National Service veterans to contact us and find out about its free support.
Elizabeth says: “Before Blind Veterans UK Mark felt like he had nothing to look forward to but now his outlook has completely changed. He is back to being himself again. Words cannot express how grateful I am for their support.
“I would definitely recommend Blind Veterans UK. If you are a mother with a veteran son, like mine, dealing with sight loss, give the charity a call.”
The charity estimates that there could be as many as 470 blind veterans in Kirklees that would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and is now battling severe sight loss, find out how we could help by calling 0800 389 7979.