Women’s Royal Air Force supplier and blind veteran, Carol Sadler, all set to march on Remembrance Sunday.
Carol Sadler, a 68 year old blind veteran from Stone in Staffordshire, will be marching to the Cenotaph in London this Remembrance Sunday.
She with be participating with more than 100 other blind veterans who are also supported by us.
Carol says: “I am so happy to be part of Blind Veterans UK and to be able to march with other veterans. I went to the Cenotaph last year and I was absolutely awed by it all. I was surprised by how many people came to watch us and I feel honoured to be able to do it again.”
In 1965, when Carol was just 17, she joined the Women’s Royal Air Force. She trained at RAF Spitalgate and worked as a supplier, looking after aircraft deliveries.
Carol says: “Joining the RAF was something I had always wanted to do. I was originally part of the Royal Observer Corps and through them I was able to go to air shows, which is where my interest in aircraft began. I come from a Navy family so when I joined the RAF they were a bit surprised that I did not follow the family tradition!”
Carol was stationed around the UK at RAF Coltishall and RAF High Wycombe. She met her husband, Alan, in the Service and was discharged in 1969 after they married.
Carol says: “I made a lot of friends when I was in the RAF. The Service brings you all together and gives you so many opportunities. Friendships in civilian life are just not the same and the camaraderie of the RAF is what I miss the most.”
It was years later in 2006 that Carol started to lose her sight to macular degeneration.
Carol says: “My sight loss happened really suddenly. I got into the car to drive home and then something strange happened to my right eye. I thought I just had a migraine but when I went to the opticians they saw what the problem was straight away.”
After losing vision in the right eye, Carol’s left eye also started to deteriorate. At the time Carol was working as an occupational health advisor, which required a lot of driving. All of a sudden she had to give up the job she loved because she could not drive.
Carol says: “Sight is so important and losing it changes everything. I always thought of myself as a confident person but the disability was very isolating. I felt like I was no longer in control of anything.”
Fortunately Carol was signposted to us by her local blind association and she has been receiving support from the charity since 2011.
Carol says: “I was in a downward spiral when Blind Veterans UK came along and I feel so grateful to have their support. The charity gave me the opportunity to meet people in the same position as me and who knew how I felt. Just speaking to them and to the staff made me feel like I could be myself again.”
Carol has received specialist computer equipment from us and she has taken part in an IT training course. Through the charity she has tried lots of activities such as white water rafting and she has discovered a love of tandem cycling.
When Carol had a stroke last year, she spent an intensive week at the Blind Veterans UK training and rehabilitation centre in Llandudno. There she worked hard with the staff in the gym to restore her limbs back to the level of mobility she had before.
Carol says: “Blind Veterans UK has given me the opportunity to do so much more than I ever thought I would be able to do since losing my sight. The activities I’ve tried through them have made a huge difference and when I had my stroke they gave me the one-to-one attention I needed.
“Sight loss makes you feel like an outsider looking in but Blind Veterans UK have made me feel like I can do anything.”
For Carol, having the opportunity to march as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations in London on Sunday 13 November 2016 means a lot and even more so this year. November coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme. Blind Veterans UK supported more than 250 blinded veterans who lost their sight at the Somme.