Cambridge WWII blind veteran to celebrate Queen’s birthday with Patron’s Lunch on the Mall
31 May 2016 15:40
A great great-grandfather and blind veteran from Cambridge has been invited to attend the Patron's Lunch to celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen this June (12/6) together with other veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK.
The lunch will be taking place on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace and is being held to recognise the more than 600 organisations that hold The Queen's patronage.
Stanley Waddingham, 90 and from Balsham, has been invited to represent Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, which has had The Queen as its Patron throughout her reign.
Stanley was born in India in 1925 in a British Army Hospital whilst his father served with the 2nd Battalion Englandshire Regiment. He followed in his footsteps and, after being a sea cadet for a few years, joined the Home Guard at age 15 at the start of the Second World War. In 1943 he joined the Royal Navy and spent six weeks at HMS Collingwood for training. Afterwards he went on an engineering course and became a motor mechanic with the Fleet Air Arm. He was attached to shore based coast commands in the UK and was later sent to the Far East. After he was discharged in 1946, Stanley joined the Royal Navy Reserve and left in 1958 as a Chief Petty Officer.
Afterwards, Stanley worked for London Transport, British Aerospace in Wales and ended up at Cambridge University Press as a Safety Officer which he did until retirement.
Stanley lost the sight in his right eye after a work accident around 60 years ago but he didn't lose his vision in his left eye until a few years ago.
Stanley says: "About five years ago I was driving and everything became misty and it remained like that while shopping. It never got better, only worse. Now I have about 5% vision left - I can tell when the sun is shining, that's about it."
Stanley has been receiving free help and support from Blind Veterans UK since 2013 after he learned about the charity through his doctor, who helped him with his application.
Stanley says: "I'd never heard of Blind Veterans UK before my doctor mentioned it and I'm grateful he did. The support from the charity has been fantastic and I love going to their Brighton centre for holidays."
Stanley has also had an introduction week where he learned how to live independently with sight loss and went on an IT training course to learn how to use a computer supplied by the Blind Veterans UK.
"I can't fault Blind Veterans UK, the staff are wonderful and always happy to help. I missed the comradeship of the Armed Forces but with Blind Veterans UK I've found it again which is wonderful."
Stanley and his friend Susan are now looking forward to celebrating The Queen's 90th birthday together with other veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK. On Sunday 12 June, The Mall in St James's Park will be transformed for its largest ever street party to celebrate The Queen's patronage of more than 600 charities and organisations.
Stanley says: "I have fond memories of the Royal Family and it will be great to celebrate the Queen's birthday on the Mall. I met the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh whilst I was working for Cambridge University Press. Prince Philip looked at me and said 'I know you, don't I?' Indeed he did, as he was the Commander at HMS London during my time there. I was impressed he remembered as that was some 45 years before.
"To now be able to go to the Patron's Lunch representing Blind Veterans UK is wonderful. I just hope that the sun will be shining that day!"