Blackpool cadets to hold WWI vigil for Blind Veterans UK

1 July 2014 14:51

Cadet groups from across Lancashire are set to mark the 100th anniversary of Britain’s entry into the First World War.

Members of Air, Sea, Army and Marine cadet groups from across the region will stand watch over Blackpool Cenotaph on August 4th - 100 years to the day after the outbreak of the War. The group will also be raising money for three charities which support modern-day veterans, including Blind Veterans UK.

The cadets will also be joined by blind veteran Matthew Rhodes, who lost his sight in a horrific motorbike accident while serving with the 1st Battalion, The Devonshire and Dorset regiment. Since losing his sight, 39-year-old Preston resident Matthew has gone on to discover a talent for painting, creating stunning artworks despite being registered blind.

The vigil is being led by the 177 Air Training Corps, who are based at Blackpool Airport. The group will read out the name of one fallen soldier named on the Cenotaph every two minutes. The Cenotaph, which holds a total of 475 names, will take the cadets the entire day to read out.

The names include two recipients of the Victoria Cross, one of the Military Cross and two Military Medal holders. The original citations for these decorated Service men will also be read out along with their names, giving Blackpool residents an insight into the brave actions of the town's First World War veterans.

Flight Lieutenant Andrew Nickson, who leads the cadets, said: "We wanted to recognise the sacrifice made by all those who served in the War a century ago, but also make sure that we could do something to help those from more recent conflicts - from World War II right up to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The 177 has a long association with Blind Veterans UK, having taken part in the charity's cadet challenges for years. Knowing that the money we raise will go to veterans who have served our country and are now suffering from sight loss is a huge inspiration for us."

As well as standing watch, the cadets will be running collections to raise money for Blind Veterans UK, as well as the Royal British Legion and BLESMA, a national charity which supports Service men and women who have lost limbs and the use of limbs in service.