Cwmbran Shopping centre hosted a successful awareness day for Blind Veterans UK

11 June 2014 11:15

One of Wales’ largest shopping centres hosted a day of activities to help Blind Veterans UK raise awareness of impaired vision.

An awareness day hosted by Cwmbran Shopping centre for Blind Veterans UK was held last Saturday as it coincided with the Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace, the annual military parade which celebrates the Queen's birthday.

From 10am-4pm there were a variety of events taking place, including gardening workshop led by blind veteran, Charlie Parkinson. The workshop helped to educate children on how visual impairment impacts other senses and after planning seeds the children took home their pots as a memento to remind them of the day.

Ten lucky shoppers were s urprised to receive free bouquets of flowers from the centre, which were presented to them by a former member of the Queen's Guards wearing the full iconic scarlet uniform. There was plenty of opportunity to for shoppers to take photos with the Queen's Guard soldier and Charlie, a blind ex-soldier, who was also available to answer questions on life as a blind person.

Charlie, 37, who lives in Cwmbran, served in the 1st Battalion of the King's Regiment and the Royal Army Medical Corps between 1995 and 2002.
He suffers from glaucoma, a condition that has gradually deprived him of his sight, to the point where he now has only 2% vision. Since joining Blind Veterans UK in 2012, Charlie has received free support to help him live independently with sight loss.

Charlie said: "Blind Veterans UK has helped me with everything from IT training to supplying gadgets that help me in everyday activities such as running, which I really enjoy. I have even managed to run the London Marathon!

"One of the best things about the Army was the camaraderie - it was like being part of a big family. I lost that when I left the Forces, but I've been welcomed into the Blind Veterans UK family now and regularly visit its centre in Llandudno.

"The charity has given me so much help and I want to show my support - the awareness day will really help show people the amazing work Blind Veterans UK do to support people like me."

To see Charlie speaking at the event, please click on the link Below.

The shopping centre manager, Paul Rich, is an ex-soldier himself who served in the Coldstream Guards from 1988 to 1994. He said: "Blind Veterans UK is an outstanding charity that I am particularly passionate about and it is very important to share the work the charity carries out with the local community.

"We hope the awareness day will enhance people's understanding of the daily challenges being vision impaired can bring. It is such a worthwhile cause, and it has been a privilege to work with the charity."

Victoria Beech, Regional Fundraiser at Blind Veterans UK added: "Many people assume our charity only supports veterans who have lost their sight in service, but we hope this event will help promote our charity as a service that helps all veterans with severe visual impairments.

"We encourage any veteran battling sight problems to call our free helpline on 0800 389 7979 or visit our website at to access support."