AgustaWestland announce centenary charity partnership with military charity

3 February 2015 15:49

One of the most famous names in the history of British aviation is celebrating the centenary of its foundation through a charity partnership with a local military charity throughout this year.

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of Westland, now AgustaWestland - as well as the founding of Blind Veterans UK, the charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

To mark this partnership, members of AgustaWestland staff have been welcomed to the Blind Veterans UK training and care centre in Llandudno this month.

Throughout their two day visit to the centre the AgustaWestland team got to meet Blind Veterans UK staff, volunteers and veterans as well as experience sessions designed to get across the difficulties faced by the vision-impaired every day.

These sessions included being taught to complete day to day tasks such as packing a suitcase or making a cup of tea, all while wearing a blindfold.

The visitors also had the opportunity to try out a range of some of the activities that the blind veterans take part in, including archery and shooting.

Billy Baxter, a veteran who has received support from Blind Veterans UK for more than 15 years and now works at the centre, also spoke to the group about his experiences with the charity and the impact it has had on his life.

Billy said: "I owe Blind Veterans UK absolutely everything. If it hadn't been for my wife Karen and this fantastic charity I would not have the great life I have now."

Paul Haig, representing the AgustaWestland Apprentice & Student Association (AWASA) which will lead the charity fundraising effort, said: "AgustaWestland is extremely proud of the charity partnership with Blind Veterans UK. As both organisations are celebrating their centenary, it is fitting that we support this amazing charity that has provided so much help to so many people throughout 100 years of service. 

"Hearing the stories of veterans like Billy and seeing firsthand the amazing work that Blind Veterans UK are doing shows why this charity partnership is so important to AgustaWestland."

Anna Martin, AWASA added: "We have pledged to raise money for Blind Veterans UK throughout 2015 and I know that that every pound raised will be put to such good use ensuring that no one who has served our country should battle blindness alone."

Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, said: "I have flown AgustaWestland helicopters all over the world as a former Army pilot and I am so pleased that this historic company will be our charity partner for our centenary year.

"The AgustaWestland team who have visited our centre in Llandudno have been able to get an idea of the vital work that Blind Veterans UK does all across the country.

"This partnership comes at a critical time for our charity as the number of blind veterans we support is increasing; in the past year, more blind veterans have registered for our help than ever before in the charity's history and this trend is set to continue."

Following the visit, the AgustaWestland staff were presented with a special model helicopter made by Peter King, a blind veteran who has received support at the Llandudno centre.  

Blind Veterans UK provides free services and help to veterans no matter what the cause of their sight loss, be it due to accident, illness, or medical conditions such as Macular Degeneration. The charity currently provides rehabilitation, training, care and recreational activities via its three centres (in Brighton, Llandudno and Sheffield) and a network of welfare staff spanning the UK.

Throughout 2015, Yeovil based AgustaWestland will also be partnered with the Yeovil Opportunity Group (YOG), a local charity that provides respite care and special provision for families and children with additional needs