Charity trains Merlin actor Colin Morgan for role in major new British film

Date
1 May 2015 12:00

Blind Veterans UK today announced details of its work with actor Colin Morgan, to support his performance as a World War I veteran in the new film Testament of Youth.

Based on Vera Brittain's best-selling World War I memoirs, Testament of Youth follows the lives of three young men in Vera Brittain's life: her love, Roland Leighton; her brother Edward and her friend Victor.

To portray the war-blinded Victor, Colin Morgan contacted the national charity Blind Veterans UK for information and training.

Originally founded in 1915 as St Dunstan's to help war-blinded World War I veterans, Blind Veterans UK provides blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women with the training, support and help they need to lead as independent and fulfilling lives as possible.

As part of his research, Colin interviewed a series of veterans helped by the charity, including World War II blind veteran Clifford Gower, Iraq blind Simon Brown and Afghanistan veteran Paul Jacobs.

Colin also spent a day at Blind Veterans UK's Brighton Centre, where he was took the same training courses that real-life blind veterans receive - while blindfolded throughout!

Colin Morgan said: "It was very important to portray Victor's blindness accurately. I contacted Blind Veterans UK, which is a fantastic charity, and they kindly invited me to learn more.

"I went down to their centre in Brighton and they took me in the same way as the hundreds of new blind veterans they help every year. I was blindfolded as soon as I came in and they took me as they would any other person; to their workshops, to their gym, to their kitchen, to make a cup of tea.

"It was very important for me to occupy that headspace and understand what it would be like for me to go through, to lose your sight, and to talk to people who had recently lost their sight. I spoke to one veteran who lost his sight in World War II. It was hugely valuable to me as an actor to research it, but also as a life experience as well, it was quite unique.

"Everyone at Blind Veterans UK was struck by Colin Morgan's commitment to portraying life as a blind veteran authentically and honestly," said Blind Veterans UK's David Bassom.

"During his time with us, Colin experienced the same range of training that we provide real-life blind veterans; he was trained in everything from using a white cane to making a cup of tea, all whilst wearing a blindfold! Colin also spoke to a number of our current blind veterans about their experiences of blindness and combat. Colin's research and training really paid off in his moving portrayal of the war-blinded Victor."

Colin added: "I didn't realise until I'd spoken to the people at Blind Veterans UK that there were so many blind people in the UK who have not availed to the services. So if there is anyone who knows anyone who is blind who could be eligible I really urge you to tell them about Blind Veterans UK. They will be fantastic help, I think."

Blind Veterans UK  has launched its No One Alone campaign which aims to reach out to the estimated 68,000 plus ex-Service personnel who, could be benefiting from the charity's services but, either do not know about the charity, or do not know that they are eligible for its services.

If you are or know of a veteran with vision impairment, go to: www.noonealone.org.uk or telephone:  0800 389 7979