Blind Veterans UK standard bearer retires after 12 years

26 November 2015

A blind veteran from East Sussex has retired from his role as a standard bearer for Blind Veterans UK after 12 years volunteering in the job.

Standard bearer Nigel Whiteley

Nigel Whiteley, 70 and from Peacehaven, steps down from his role after representing the charity at more than 60 events as a standard bearer.

Nigel joined the Royal Navy in 1961 working as a Medical Assistant. He served around the world including in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Singapore, disaster relief in the West Indies and Bangladesh, and Lebanon.

It was while serving in the Lebanon that Nigel contracted the virus that would eventually lead to him losing his sight. Nigel suffers from bi-lateral central retinal vein occlusion which means that the veins to his retinas are blocked.

He lost most of the sight in one eye in 1984 and the other in 1999. It was at this point that he got in touch with Blind Veterans UK. He started receiving help and support from the charity in 2000.

Nigel says: "I knew about Blind Veterans UK, or St Dunstan's as it was known then, so I got in touch with them when my sight started to get much worse.

"I've got so much out of my time with the charity. I've had IT training and equipment which has made a massive difference and have also been able to take part in so many activities and sports that I wouldn't have thought possible when I lost my sight.

"I'm a member of the Blind Veterans UK shooting club and have won a gold medal in blind archery. I've also enjoyed spending time in the art and crafts workshop in Brighton."

Nigel was asked to take on the job of Standard Bearer by the then manager of the Blind Veterans UK centre in Ovingdean in 2003.

He says: "I was honoured to be asked and I'm very proud to have represented the charity for the last 12 years.

"I've carried the Blind Veterans UK standard at so many events including Armed Forces Day, the National Arboretum and the charity's centenary service at Westminster Abbey. I've only stopped now because I've got a dickie heart.
"As well as carrying the standard I've been proud to help raise awareness of the charity and money too. It's important for me to give back to the organisation as it's done so much for me.

Nigel and his wife Jacquie, who has supported him in all his work and driven him across the country to fulfil his duties, were presented with a framed photo of Nigel with his standard, flowers for Jacquie and a Decanter of Rum for Nigel.

Blind Veterans UK's Director of Fundraising and Communications Andrew Jones presented Nigel with a Certificate which read:

"This certificate is to recognise the outstanding contribution and commitment of Nigel Whiteley in his role as a volunteer and National Standard bearer for St Dunstan's and now Blind Veterans UK. Nigel has been a great ambassador, dedicating countless hours promoting and advocating on behalf of our charity so that other ex-Service men and women may discover a life beyond sight loss. Nigel, with the tireless support of his wife Jacquie, has made a real difference to those in the blind veterans' community and for that my I offer you my gratitude."

The certificate was signed by Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB DL, Vice Patron of Blind Veterans UK.