Derbyshire blind veteran enjoys “dream Christmas” thanks to Blind Veterans UK

A blind veteran from Derbyshire spent the festive period with other vision-impaired ex-Service men and women at Blind Veterans UK’s centre in Llandudno.

Every year the charity invites beneficiaries, like Audrie, 84 and from Matlock, who would otherwise be alone at Christmas, to spend the week at one of our training and rehabilitation centres.

Audrie joined the Royal Air Force in 1953 and, after serving in the UK mainly in Signals, including time at Bletchley Park, she was discharged as a Leading Aircraftwomen (LACW) in 1955.

She lost her sight much later in life due to age-related macular degeneration and describes how hard that was for her: “I’d say I was devastated when my sight started to get really bad. It’s very true that vision problems really do cut you off from the world and can leave you feeling isolated."

“Faces are just a blur now and there are lots of things that I used to be comfortable with that I no longer am.”

Audrie started receiving support from Blind Veterans UK in 2018 after being told about the charity by Derbyshire Sight Support. She describes them as “taking her into a new world.”

She adds: “I remember being invited for a free introduction week to learn about all the different things Blind Veterans UK could do for me and just walking into the building for the first time felt like a great big warm hug.”

She has been given training and equipment to allow her to adapt to her sight loss and continue to live independently. She says: “The best thing I have been given is my special adapted tablet computer, I’m not sure what I’d do without it now.”

Although Audrie says that the social aspects of the charity are what make the biggest difference to her, particularly at Christmas: “I had a lovely time, it really was the best. There were beautiful decorations and such lovely food.

“We also were taken to see the pantomime Snow White which was great fun and visited the Christmas market in Chester."

"We all woke up on Christmas Day to discover that Father Christmas had left a full stocking on our door!"

“I was joined for New Year’s by my friend Phyllis and also became good friends with a lovely man called Mike. New Year’s Eve was just as good as Christmas and there was a lot of dancing with almost everyone staying up until midnight.

“I remember looking around and thinking I wish people could see all these blind veterans enjoying themselves. We all proved that getting older and losing your sight should never stop you having fun.”

Unfortunately, Audrie’s husband passed away almost 15 years ago but she was able to spend Christmas with the friends she has made through Blind Veterans UK.

“If it wasn’t for Blind Veterans UK I would have spent Christmas alone. I just feel like I have this whole new family really. It’s not just at Christmas too, I don’t feel alone anymore."

“I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone at Blind Veterans UK and wish them all a happy and joyous New Year, I know mine will be.”

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