Blind veteran, Dennis enjoys special visit to RAF Memorial

1 June 2017 16:00

One of our wonderful volunteers, Kevin, recently accompanied blind veteran Dennis Brett on a day out at RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at RAF Coningsbury in Lincolnshire.

Dennis is 92 and was born in London.  He joined the RAF as an Aircraft Mechanic in 1942 rising to the rank of Leading Aircraftsman. He served at various air bases in Yorkshire during the Second World War and thereafter in Italy, Egypt and Palestine.

Dennis has been supported by Blind Veterans UK since last year after being diagnosed with wet and dry macular degeneration.

Photo of blind veteran Dennis Brett standing at entrance to  RAF fighter plane during visit to museum with his volunteer Kevin

Dennis tells us: “I live on my own and am very independent but I have no close friends near me to help me out and no help from any carers.  I do my own shopping, travelling by bus and my own cooking”.

“I keep busy by attending monthly meet ups – one is a literary group, one is for ex-civil servants and the other is a lunch group”.

Since becoming united with Kevin, Dennis is able to receive help with his shopping among many other things. Discussing his experience as a volunteer Kevin says: 

"I’m ex-forces myself which inspired me to become a volunteer. Dennis is lovely and it’s wonderful spending time with him. My dad was in the war as well so I can relate to him."

“He loves his computer and I’m an ex-IT teacher so we’ve spent a lot of time discussing that. He told me he’s going to teach me how to play the guitar - he’s even made one of his guitars!”

 Photo of blind veteran Dennis Brett having coffee with 3 RAF personnel during his visit to the RAF museum with his volunteer KevinBlSpeaking of their excursion Kevin says: “The ground crew for all the aircraft were brought in to meet Dennis and we had coffee together. They even brought him in presents. He was given a blazer badge belonging to the squadron, pens, books and pictures. To my surprise, he went in his pocket and pulled out some photographs from the Second World War. You could see him wrapped up in what he was telling them and it was great to see.”

The plan was for Dennis and Kevin to take a 45 minute trip from Dennis’ house to the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to view the aircraft from a distance. Much to their surprise their casual plans transformed into a completely special and personal experience, with Dennis as the star of the show.

Photo of blind veteran Dennis Brett standing with 2 Air Force personnel at RAF museum during visit with his volunteer Kevin

Just as Dennis was getting his money out to pay the entrance fee the lady behind the desk asked whether Dennis had ever been in the RAF.  As soon as he said he had, Dennis and volunteer Kevin had the red carpet treatment.

Dennis and Kevin were taken into the offices where they met several officers and a wing commander and the crews of the various aircraft. Following this they were taken into the Lancaster Lounge for coffee, which is reserved for VIP’s.

Then they were taken on a tour around the different aircraft.  During the war, Dennis had worked on Dakotas, his favourite aircraft, so he was allowed to go into the cockpit of one in the hanger. Kevin says: 

"It had been over 70 years since Dennis had sat in one of these Dakota’s. He was in his element, sat in the pilot seat."

Present day crews and ground crews loved hearing blind veteran Dennis’ stories and learnt from the experience he had.

Photo of blind veteran Dennis Brett with an RAF personnel standing by a plane during his visit to the RAF museum with his volunteer Kevin

Kevin found the day equally rewarding: “He was ecstatic, it took him back in time. Dennis and the RAF flight sergeant had their heads stuck in the engine and I could hear Dennis telling him all about the workings of an air frame. This flight sergeant told me that he loves talking to the older veterans.”

Dennis and Kevin had such a lovely outing they’re already planning another one. Up next? A road trip is to visit RAF Scampton, home of the Red Arrows the RAF aerobatic team.