It was a special day at our Llandudno centre on 26 March, when we hosted our annual Founder’s Day Awards. From the very start there was an excited atmosphere, as the invited guests gathered for drinks beforehand, and wondered who would receive one of the nine categories on offer.
The awards are always held on this date, and celebrate Blind Veterans UK’s founder, Sir Arthur Pearson and his determination help others rebuild their lives after sight loss. The date of the awards is significant, because on 26 March 1915, 16 war-blinded soldiers entered our training facility at Regent’s Park in London.
Two new awards – the Carers Recognition Award and the Inspiring Community Award – have been added to include non-members who have made a difference.
Member Mark Pile, who is widely known across the charity for his photography work, won the Creative Award.
“There are widows, carers, spouses, family members and supporters, and it felt appropriate to extend the awards to include those very, very special people.”Nicky Shaw, Blind Veterans UK Director of Operations
“My thanks goes to everyone who has helped me from Blind Veterans UK. They’ve supported me and given me the confidence to be the photographer I am today. Thank you, it’s an honour to be part of such a great charity.”Mark Pile
Rob Long, who was blinded in 2010 while on active service, won the Sporting Achievement Award. His injuries caused him to suffer serious skull and brain injuries, and lose both eyes as a result. He now competes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and in the last year has been ranked number one ranked Para BJJ athlete in the UK and Europe following winning the World championships in Abu Dhabi. He is the Army’s BJJ Heavy weight gold medallist, has a long list of medals to his name and is always striving to be the best in his chosen sport.
In his citation, we said, “Rob has talked in interviews about feeling broken when he first was injured but through training he received and now having found a sport he can excel in and feel like himself again he feels like he is on top of the world.”
“I’d like to say a massive, massive thank you to Blind Veterans UK because I’m sure all of you know how much they’ve done for us. If they hadn’t been there at the beginning when I went through my rehabilitation, none of my achievements would have been possible at all.”Rob Long
Full list of winners:
- Inspiring Community Award (local) - C Jones
- Inspiring Community Award (Local - Special Recognition) - W Skinner
- Life Beyond Sight Loss Award (Discovering a new skill) - V Yates
- Life Beyond Sight Loss Award (Rediscovering a new skill) - A Bache
- Creative Award - M Pile
- Sporting Achievement Award - R Long
- Vocational Award (Education, training and employment) - S Evans
- Vocational Award (Education) - G Haywood
- Outstanding Achievement Award (New recruit) - T Appleby
- Outstanding Achievement Award (Long service) - S Sparkes
- Outstanding Achievement Award (Special Recognition) - A Lock
- Inspiring Community Award (Blind Veterans UK family) - B Hardie
- Inspiring Community Award (Blind Veterans UK family - Special Recognition) - S Griffiths-Jones
- Carer’s Recognition Award - L Best
- Ted Higgs Prize - S Stocker