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Blind ex Royal Marine Commando from Dorset prepares to march with Blind Veterans UK on Remembrance Sunday

Date
15 October 2014 12:30

A vision impaired ex-Royal Marine Commando from Dorset has spoken of how “proud and exhilarated” he is to be marching at London’s Cenotaph this year on behalf of national charity, Blind Veterans UK.

55 year old Tony Haskey from Poole will be part of a 100-strong contingent marching for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity which supports vision impaired ex-Service men and women.

Tony joined the Royal Marines in 1975 and served three tours in Northern Ireland, two tours in Hong Kong, as well as spending time in Malta and the UK. In 1983, at the age of just 36, Tony began to notice a change in his sight.

Tony says "We were out on a night patrol and had just been dropped in the countryside by the helicopter. All of a sudden, I realised I had got separated from my section and I couldn't see a thing in the dark. Thankfully they came back to get me!

"I'd just applied to be a driver in the Marines around that time so I wanted to get it checked out. I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and was called back to RM Poole, where I retrained."

Due to his condition, Tony was medically discharged from service in 1986. Shortly afterwards, Tony was also diagnosed with macular edema. Tony says "As soon as I got that diagnosis, the sight in my right eye suddenly went. I was completely gutted. The sight in my left eye started to go, and I just lost all confidence."

Due to his time in service, Tony was eligible for free, lifelong support from Blind Veterans UK to help him live independently with sight loss.

Tony says "Blind Veterans UK has helped me massively, especially in the early stages of my sight loss. The charity has provided me with so much support over the years, they taught me how to touch type, how to read Braille and even how to programme computers. Blind Veterans UK encouraged me to go back in to education and get my GSCEs which allowed me to go on and get a degree in Information Technology.

"Without the support of Blind Veterans UK, I don't know where I would be now. When I first went to the charity's centre in Brighton, I was quite down about things, but being there, learning new things and especially making new friends with the other blind veterans really spurred me on. The continual support from Blind Veterans UK has made sure that as the sight in my left eye has got worse and worse, I've been able to cope and adjust."

This Remembrance Sunday will be the seventh time that Tony will take part in the parade and march on behalf of Blind Veterans UK.

Tony says "It is a real privilege to be marching for Blind Veterans UK as it is very special to me.

"Remembrance Sunday will be a time that I think of a dear friend, who I lost whilst I was in Northern Ireland, as well as all of those others who have passed. It's also a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends, and to make new ones."

Our No One Alone campaign aims to reach out to more people like Tony. More than 68,000 other veterans could be eligible for free help and support without realising it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss from any reason visit www.noonealone.org.uk or call 0800 389 7979.