Carl Adamson speaks of regaining his independence with the support of Blind Veterans UK

28 November 2013 11:30

Carl Adamson, who lost his sight in his early 20’s whilst Serving in Northern Ireland, speaks about overcoming injury and regaining his his independence with the support of Blind Veterans UK.

Carl lost his sight in his early 20's. He was serving with the Cheshire Regiment in Northern Ireland in 1997. He'd been there nearly 2 weeks and was just a week away from finishing his tour of duty when the armour plated Land Rover he was travelling in flipped over at a roadblock they were putting in to stop the IRA passing the border.

The Land Rover ended up in a ditch, and unknown to his army colleagues, Carl was trapped underneath. As the other soldiers clambered out of the vehicle, the pressure kept forcing the Land Rover further on top of him. Every bone in his face was crushed. He started screaming and once they realised he was underneath they used a car jack to raise the Land Rover up and get him out. He can only recollect seeing a blue light which was the ambulance in the distance.

Carl woke up in hospital in Belfast, really frightened. He had no idea where he was and at first thought he'd been captured by the IRA as he had bandages over both eyes and couldn't see. He was placed under armed guard in the hospital.

Carl has no recollection about how he got there, or what day of the week it was. They had been unable to transport him by helicopter due to the extent of his injuries, which the consultant said were the worst he'd even seen in someone that had survived. So they had transported him 300 miles across Ireland by road.

He had stitches and staples from one side of his head to the other and tubes coming out of everywhere. It took him a long time to realise who he was again.

Carl has had 13 or 14 operations to reconstruct his face and has been to so many different hospitals he can't remember them all. 

As a result of the accident Carl has lost the sight in one eye completely and has blurred vision in the other. He has no sense of smell so smoke alarms are really important in his home and he can't go out in the daylight without a special cap to minimise glare.

After the accident he suffered bouts of depression. Carl said: "You feel like you're alone with no-one to turn to. Carl requested free support from Blind veterans UK during which he received respite care. Carl said: "If it wasn't for them I don't know where I'd be." He moved back in with his parents into their bungalow and spent his first Christmas there. He felt very lonely and couldn't go out.

Sadly, Carls mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer around the same time as the accident. She passed away two years after the accident, less than a year after into his treatment. Carl has said that the fact his mum never saw him in recovery was as traumatic as the injuries he incurred.

The type of support that Carl has received from Blind Veterans UK is sight loss aides such as a talking microwave, audio description on his television, a liquid level indicator for making a cup of tea and a talking phone. Carl has visited the Blind Veterans UK centre in Llandudno for an activities week, playing golf, taking part in dry slope skiing and playing tennis. Carl said: "I probably would have never had the opportunity to do a lot of these things if I hadn't lost my sight."

With the support of Blind Veterans UK Carl has also visited the World War One graves in France and has marched to the Cenotaph in London. He has achieved his level three qualification in sports and fitness at college which Blind Veterans UK funded and he hopes to find employment as a sports instructor to help him give something back to other rehabilitated soldiers.

When speaking about his welfare officer from Blind Veterans UK Carl said: "Sharon has been there from the beginning. She's a fantastic lady. She works around trying to get me into the places she feels are suitable. She comes from Bolton to Hereford every couple of weeks. She's one of those ladies that would never give up on me. She'll be with me till the end. We're like a little team together. She's only a phone call away. I email her regularly to let her know what I've been doing.

"Blind Veterans UK have done fantastic things, and have been such a help. Without them, I don't think I'd be where I am today. The support and camaraderie of the place is fantastic."

This Christmas, give the gift of independence to a blind veteran like Carl. Make a donation to help Blind Veterans UK to continue to provide lifelong practical and emotional support like that which Carl has received. Support blind veterans by donating online.

 If you know someone who Served in the Armed Forces, including for National Service who has sight loss (including age-related sight loss) request free support from Blind Veterans UK by calling 0800 389 7979