Blind former Army captain from Hillingdon to march with Blind Veterans UK for Remembrance Sunday
16 October 2014 12:35
A blind former Army Captain from Hillingdon is set to march to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday with “life-changing” charity Blind Veterans UK.
Kerry Levins, 43 and from West Drayton, will take part in the Remembrance Day commemorations with Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women, which supported him after he was registered blind.
Kerry joined the Services on leaving school, following his brother, father and grandfather into the Army. He went to The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in 1990 after an Army recruiter suggested he would make a good officer.
As a newly commissioned officer in the Royal Corps of Signals, Kerry served with the Gurkhas as part of the Queens' Gurkha Signals in Nepal and Hong Kong.
Kerry says "Working with the Gurkhas was very enlightening - they are magnificent people. They are intensely loyal and once you've earned their trust, they stuck with you no matter what. Every day in Hong Kong was different, from training exercises in jungle terrain to working with the Royal Navy and Hong Kong Police on anti-smuggling operations."
At the end of his time in the Army, Kerry started to suffer from Ischaemic Retinal Vasculitis, a type of thrombosis of the blood vessels in the eye. Kerry says "I woke up one day with a gammy eye so went to see the medical officer. He didn't know what was wrong with me, so I was sent straight to hospital."
Kerry retired from the Army in 1999 as a Captain, but the vasculitis gradually spread to the point where he was registered blind in 2006. The cause was subsequently determined to be "Service Attributable".
Kerry says "I now only have a very small amount of vision in my left eye. Adjusting was a difficult time and I spent a while feeling rather sorry for myself, not quite sure what to do. Eventually, I decided to get a guide dog and to contact Blind Veterans UK for support - that's when my life started to turn around."
Kerry has since been receiving free and comprehensive support from Blind Veterans UK. Kerry works for BP within the IT Division and is also a Trustee for Blind Veterans UK.
He says "Blind Veterans UK has given me absolutely immeasurable support, both emotional and practical, plus meeting other ex-Service personnel with sight loss has been a huge help. Quite simply, the charity's support has been life-changing."
On Sunday 9 November, Kerry will join other vision impaired ex-Service men and women supported by Blind Veterans UK on the annual Remembrance Sunday march to the Cenotaph.
This will be the second time Kerry has marched to the Cenotaph with the charity, having completed the march for the first time last year. He says "Remembrance is not just about remembering the fallen - it is also about sparing a thought for those who are still serving, their families and loved ones and about those whose service has ended, but who are still battling every day."
"I will be thinking of those I had the privilege to serve with, some of whom are no longer with us, this Remembrance Day when I march with Blind Veterans UK."
Our No One Alone campaign aims to reach out to more veterans like Kerry. More than 68,000 other people 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.