Battle Back Centre - “What they can do – not what they cannot”

9 April 2018 13:00

Two of our blind veterans, Richard and Karl, have recently returned from a trip to the Battle Back Centre in Lilleshaw.

The pair were on a week’s adaptive sport and adventurous training programme for wounded, injured or sick ex-Armed Forces personnel.

The Battle Back Centre in Lilleshaw
The Battle Back Centre in Lilleshaw

Battle Back Centre is an initiative with the backing of the MOD, Sport England (who provide the facility), the Royal British Legion and Leeds Metropolitan University (who provide the coaching staff) focussing on what ex-Service men and women can do and not what they cannot. An ethos which is also shared by us as a charity. 

Richard, 51 and ex-Grenadier Guards, lost his sight in 2013 as a result of hereditary retinal dystrophy. He joined our charity in the same year. 

Richard says: “It was an action packed week with physical activities, discussions and meetings. There were 22 of us on the course.  On arrival at the centre we dropped our bags in our rooms and were immediately taken on an orientation tour of the building.”

Blind veterans, Richard and Karl are seated on the left
Richard and Karl, shown seated on the left, were the only ones with sight loss.

Richard says: “It was interesting that they had to learn to cope with and adapt to our limitations. We took part in every activity though”.

Richard is pictured below showing his bowling prowess and impressive archery stance. 

Blind veteran Richard bowling
Blind veteran Richard in an archery stance
"The first team activity was wheelchair basketball, everyone taking part in wheelchairs, and they realised the basketballs would have to be yellow or orange for us to see them more easily. Putting us, with vision impairments, in wheelchairs for the first time was interesting! We had several spectacular crashes. It was great fun and interesting to hear the others on the course wondering how we coped with sight loss"

Richard says: “Most mornings started with us going for an early walk before breakfast either alone, with a mate or in groups.  This was to encourage us to get out, get some fresh air, and chat about how things were going”. 

Richard realised, “The week was really about getting everyone to understand their own issues and problems and to help them find coping mechanisms to take away with them and use going forward”. 

They were put in challenging situations such as climbing walls, as can be seen in this photo. 

Then back into the classroom afterwards to discuss what they had learnt. They were kept very busy. 

They went pot holing, as can be seen in the photo below, and as Richard said, “Someone had a melt down and was helped to control his fear with breathing exercises - and jokey encouragement from the others”.

Veterans pot holing

They were asked to look at their overall health.  “We were asked to drink 2 litres of water a day, to think more about our health, make small changes to the way we were living.  All things we could continue to do when we went home”.

Richard praised all the Battle Back staff, “They were all just so professional. I was inspired by them and left determined to drink 2 litres of water a day!”