Andy Allen, blinded by bomb attack in Afghanistan, thanks Blind Veterans UK
17 December 2013 17:15
A soldier who was blinded in a Taliban bomb attack in the Helmand Province whilst serving in Afghanistan has thanked national charity, Blind Veterans UK, for helping him to recover his independence.
Born in Belfast in 1988, Andy Allen, now 25, joined the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment in 2006. It was when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 that the bomb happened, resulting in Andy being blinded and losing both his legs.
Just a few months after the accident Andy became a member of national charity Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Dunstan's, which supports blind veterans through support, rehabilitation, training, welfare and recreation. He describes the care he has received from the charity as life changing.
Andy says: "I would not have been able to get on as far with my recovery if it had not been for Blind Veterans UK. What has helped me the most about the charity's approach is that they are absolutely there whenever you need them, but at the same time you are really encouraged to try and live as independently as possible again. You are not Mummy-cuddled, wrapped up in cotton wool, but instead supported in your efforts to do things independently, which is exactly what helps you to regain your independence.
"Through Blind Veterans UK I have had very useful training in picture framing as well as computer skills. Without this I would not have been able to do things like email people which I now rely being able to do an awful lot.
"Blind Veterans UK offers may different elements of support depending on the individual needs, for me it was the support with adapting my home and help with retraining."
Amongst many things that Andy has been able to achieve since becoming a member of the charity is setting up his very own charity, AA Veterans Support, which supports veterans and their families based in Northern Ireland. Andy has been able to build on the support he has received from Blind Veterans UK and manage the delivery of a service to veterans and their families across Northern Ireland, an experience he describes as "a privilege".
Blind Veterans UK believes that no blind ex-Service man or woman should be alone this Christmas. Do you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or for National Service who is now battling with sight loss? Request free support by calling 0800 389 7979.