Ex-National Serviceman Tom Bryden is to march to the Cenotaph to mark Remembrance Day

30 October 2013 15:20

Blind veteran Tom Bryden, will join other proud ex-Servicemen and women in this year's march to the Cenotaph in central London to mark Remembrance Day.

84 year old veteran from Tyne and Wyre, Tom Bryden, will join hundreds of other proud ex-Servicemen and women in this year's march to the Cenotaph in central London to mark Remembrance Day in memory of fallen servicemen and women. Tom will be marching on behalf of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind ex-Service men and women that has supported him for years.

Tom was called up to do National Service when he was 18 years old. Speaking about this experience, he said: "I was in a very early National Service intake. It was June 1946 and the war had only just come to an end in 1945. I went to Palestine, where I was injured, and also Suez. I really enjoyed what I did. I took what it threw at me and tried to make the very best of it. I think that this is an attitude that I have carried with me ever since."

Tom became blind in later life as a result of bilateral macular degeneration, and as an ex-Serviceman was eligible to become a member of Blind Veterans UK, which provides rehabilitation programs, art and craft classes, sports and recreation, clubs and societies, information technology, care and welfare to blind ex-Serviceman and women, regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.

Tom said: "I appreciate the experience I have had with Blind Veterans UK so much. I feel like it is one big family, and I feel very happy and proud to be part of it. I think that this is what everyone who joins the charity starts to feel.

"I think that as a charity we should really blow our trumpet about all of the excellent things we do. My family are very aware and appreciative of the impact that charity has had on me and the support it has given me.

"I know from what I have seen in other people that losing your confidence is very easy to do when you suffer from sight loss, and it is very difficult to re-gain. People feel that they don't want their independence to be lost.

"I think that often people have no idea of what it is like to live with blindness and visual impairment. I remember once going up the escalator in a shopping centre in Newcastle around Christmas time. I remember hearing two ladies standing behind me talking. One said to the other "I really don't know what on earth a blind person is doing in a shopping centre at this time of year". I thought to myself, does she think that we do not have to shop, to buy goods, to eat?

"I always greatly look forward to the Remembrance Day march to the Cenotaph. I lost mates who I had served with, so when I march I think of them. It is essential that we always remember them."

Blind Veterans UK's No One Alone campaign aims to reach out to the 68,000 blind veterans who are eligible for our free services but are not currently aware of this.

If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces - including for National Service, and are now battling sight problems callĀ  0800 389 7979 and request free support.