Blind Liverpool Army veteran urges other veterans to seek free support

20 September 2016 11:27

Kenneth Baker lost his sight due to a stroke, and this National Eye Health Week (19 – 25 September), the Liverpool Army veteran has urged other ex-Service men and women to contact us for support.

Kenneth, 83, lives in Maghull and has been receiving support from Blind Veterans UK since 2015.

Born in Liverpool, he was first employed in a timber yard before joining the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) for National Service in 1951 at 18 years old.

Veteran Ken Baker
Kenneth Baker and his wife Edna enjoying a Blind Veterans UK reunion at Anfield

He served in Egypt in the lead up to the Suez Crisis and then also in Trieste, Italy before he was discharged as a private in 1953. He continued part-time National Service in the Kings Regiment until 1956.

It was years later, in 2013, that Kenneth suddenly lost his sight to a stroke. The stroke caused the blood to his optic nerve in his right eye to be cut off, leaving him severely vision-impaired. He has always been severely short-sighted in his left eye.

Kenneth said: ‘I was in bed about to go to sleep one night when my wife suddenly said that there was something wrong with my eyes. My eyes were glazed over and I was stuck staring into space. I couldn’t see her at all. All I saw were many coloured lights flashing in front of my eyes.

‘I was taken to the hospital at 1am and told that I had just had my second stroke. The doctor who treated me said that if I had come into the hospital a bit earlier they might have been able to do more for me. Unfortunately it was too late to save my sight.’

Kenneth said: ‘Losing my sight was really hard at first. I was still running my own business as a handy-man and then suddenly I could not drive or do any DIY. I had to completely pack it all in. That was a difficult change to be faced with and I did feel a bit lost.’

We’re reaching out to vision-impaired veterans like Kenneth who could benefit from our free, life-changing support. Regardless of how a veteran lost their sight or when they served, we will provide free, lifelong support to them and their families to help them discover life after sight loss.

We estimate that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access our specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.

Fortunately for Kenneth, his local opticians knew about us and encouraged him to get in touch to apply for our free specialist support. As well as free equipment, Kenneth has had a week of training at the Blind Veterans UK centre in Sheffield. He has also visited the Llandudno centre for a holiday and attended a reunion of blind veterans at Anfield Football Stadium.

Kenneth said: ‘My training week at the Blind Veterans UK centre was really helpful and the staff there were brilliant. They made sure I felt comfortable and they taught me so much. The charity gave me so much free equipment as well, like software for my laptop and a scanner which magnifies documents so that I can read them again. Initially I said that I didn’t need the scanner because I just felt like I was taking too much but they assured me that it was mine to use as much as I need to.

‘The best piece of equipment that I’ve been given by far is a special smartphone adapted so that I can use it. It’s made such a huge difference because now I have an easy way to keep in touch with my family and friends. The support from Blind Veterans UK has been such a great experience and I’m very grateful for all their help.’