Brighton World War Two blind veteran thanks charity for vital support at Christmas

11 December 2013 16:25

A blind World War Two veteran from Brighton has thanked charity Blind Veterans UK for its excellent support with his battle against sight loss.

Charles Hanaway, 90, joined Blind Veterans UK a decade ago after losing his sight gradually from bilateral disciform macular degeneration. The support he receives from Blind Veterans UK will be as vital to him as ever as he prepares for his first Christmas since losing his wife of 48 years.

After leaving school aged 13, Charles was first employed in an engineering works in Fulham, London before working as a bike boy for Sainsbury's in Chelsea. As soon as the outbreak of the Second World War was declared in 1939 Charles, then aged 15, volunteered to join the army.

After his training Charles was posted to the Middlesex Regiment and later the London Irish Rifles, the Royal Ulster Rifles and finally the Royal Scots Fusiliers where he was trained for the second front. After landing at Arromanche Beach in June 1944, Charles fought through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany and ending up losing part of his left foot when he was caught in a mine blast as he crossed the River Rhine.

Despite losing sight long after his eventful military career, Charles was able to request free support from Blind Veterans UK. Charles says: "I have got so much out of being a member of Blind Veterans UK. I have greatly enjoyed the camaraderie and comradeship I've have with other members. The good thing is that it feels as though everyone is in the same position.

"I am really looking forward to spending this Christmas at the charity's Brighton centre. It will be the first time I have stayed at one of the centres and I gather it is a lot of fun and a relaxing place to be at that time of year. I cannot imagine what Christmas would have been like if I hadn't been able to go there. As my wife has recently passed away I am on my own now so it would have been lousy to say the least".

Blind Veterans UK provides exceptional support, rehabilitation, training and recreation to blind veterans, regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight. The charity has three care, rehabilitation and training centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales. Formerly St Dunstan's, the charity was founded in 1915 and has its Headquarters in London.

Amongst other aspects of the charity's services, Charles has benefitted from regularly using the Brighton centre's gymnasium and swimming pool which are designed to support the needs of its blind and vision impaired users. Charles says that his experiences with the charity have changed his life for the better.

Blind Veterans UK believes that no blind veteran should be alone at Christmas - If you know someone who Served and is suffering with severe sight problems- find out how to refer them to Blind Veterans UK for free support.

Charles has since written two books about his early life, his most recently being about his early life and experience of World War Two. Charles is hoping to raise money  for Blind Veterans UK and other charities, through book sales. The book is called 'Living for the Moment' and is available on Amazon.