Christmas past and Christmas present
13 December 2013 17:30
Christmas at Blind Veterans UK through the years has been celebrated in a diverse variety of ways since our foundation in 1915. Read more about our history during the festive season.
Christmas at Blind Veterans UK through the years has been celebrated in a diverse variety of ways since our foundation in 1915. We've been looking through our archives for some of the examples of how the festive season has been celebrated from 1918 until present day.
On 12th December 1918 we held Christmas entertainment at our then headquarters in Regent's Park. It was the veterans who entertained guests, dressed as pierrots. Those who watched the performance, included our then Patron Princess Alexandra and her daughter Princess Victoria, Grand Duchess Olga of Russia and the Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden. There were songs with accompaniment from the Ragtime Band.
Moving a decade or so forward, the festive period between December 1939 and January 1940 was reported in our Review magazine, when on the 28 December, a performance of 'Cinderella' by the VAD was given, innovatively a gas mask replacing the dainty shoe.
A year on and Christmas 1940 was spent in Church Stretton and elsewhere. Many of the blind veterans were away for Christmas itself but Church Stretton has instead residents from bombed areas. Christmas dinner included games such as blowing up balloons and bursting them by sitting on them!
In 1941 trainees enjoyed a visit at Christmas from George Formby, who provided entertainment for an hour and also presented a donation of £50 (equivalent to other £1500 today) from the George Formby Fan Club.
In December 1966 our Review magazine reports on Christmas at Ovingdean - celebrations spread over a fortnight, through to new year, including "afternoon tea, coach drives, bingo and dominos" enjoyed by local veterans. They also enjoyed "theatre and pantomime parties" but they were only part of the fun. The Review also reported that 'the jollifications end with the New Year's Eve Dance and Cabaret - Auld Lang Syne is rendered with fervour after circulation of the renowned Ovingdean Rum Punch'. It sounds like quite the celebration!
In more recent years, our veterans have taken to the art and craft workshop in Brighton to design Christmas cards and festive crafts. These Christmas cards were designed by members in 2012.
Nowadays in 2013 blind veterans have been enjoying a Christmas week in Sheffield, which you can read more about here.