Blind Royal Navy veteran thanks Blind Veterans UK for support

6 January 2014 11:25

John Dix lost his sight years after serving in the Royal Navy. Now John speaks of battling his sight loss and the impact the free support from Blind Veterans UK has had on his life.

John Dix, a former Acting Petty Officer Stoker in the Royal Navy, lost his sight many years after serving in the Armed Forces, and has thanked national charity, Blind Veterans UK, for the support it has given him with his battle against sight loss.

John Dix, 86, who lives in Pembroke, Wales, joined the Royal Navy in 1947, aged 19. After  training he served for eight years and says that the experience was extremely enjoyable as well as challenging and that the best aspect of his time as a Navy man was the comradeship and supportiveness he felt with and amongst his colleagues.

It wasn't until many years after he was discharged from the Navy in 1954 that John lost his sight as a result of retinitis pigmentosa. As a vision impaired ex Serviceman, John was able to apply for free support from Blind Veterans UK, which helps blind veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.

John says that, thanks to Blind Veterans UK, he has been able to do things he would have never imagined he would be able to do after losing his sight.

John says: "I remember when I first visited Blind Veterans UK and spent a week having my induction at one of its centres. I was totally amazed by all that they did for their veterans, as were all of the others who had just joined - it just seems so extraordinary. All of the other veterans and I were treated so well. It felt, and still feels, like an extremely genuine and caring organisation.

"I have been on IT and art and craft courses with the charity, which have been fantastic. Particularly the art and craft ones; I have learnt how to do willow weaving and knotting which I have really enjoyed. My aim is to set up my own willow weaving facility in my garage and eventually produce work that I can sell in aid of Blind Veterans UK. I have already made quite a few dragon-fly shaped Christmas tree ornaments, that I made out of parachute cord, and I sold them in aid of the charity.

"I must say, emphatically, without hesitation, that these are things I have been able to do because of Blind Veterans UK."

Blind Veterans UK launched the No One Alone campaign in October 2012 after research showed that there are 68,000 blind veterans in the UK who could be eligible for free support. The majority of the 68,000 are the National Service generation of men, who are now in their 70s and 80s, and are trying to cope with severe sight problems.

John says: "No One Alone seems like a very good name for the campaign - sight loss is a very isolating experience. Given what they have done for me, I am happy to do whatever I possibly can to help support and promote the work of Blind Veterans UK.

"My wife, Daphne, is also over the moon about the charity's marvellous support. They have been very good to her. When we go to one of its centres they are always really kind and helpful to her. I am not sure how they pick their staff, they must had a magic wand to find them, because they are all just brilliant."

If you are or know of a veteran with vision impairment,find out how to request free support.