Ex soldier blinded in motorbike accident to march to Llandudno Cenotaph with Blind Veterans UK
21 October 2014 13:00
An ex-soldier who lost most of his sight in a horrific accident during his military service is set to march to the Llandudno Cenotaph representing Blind Veterans UK.
39 year old Matt Rhodes, from Lancashire, will take part in the annual Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Llandudno on Sunday 9 November with Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women.
Matt was blinded in a motorbike accident a few weeks before his 21st birthday while on active service with the 1st Battalion, The Devonshire and Dorset regiment, in Germany. Matt's accident put him in a coma for ten weeks, paralysed him on his right side, and damaged his sight, memory and some of his ability to feel emotion.
Matt says "I come from a military family and I'd always wanted to serve in the Army, but I knew that my military career was over when I had my accident."
Shortly afterwards, Matt began receiving free and comprehensive support from Blind Veterans UK to help him regain his independence after sight loss.
Matt says "The moment I was registered blind, Blind Veterans UK was there for me, teaching me how to regain my confidence and independence. It was when Blind Veterans UK invited me to spend some time in the art and craft workshop at its Brighton rehabilitation and training centre that I discovered my unlikely painting talent."
Matt's style of painting requires him to stand very close to the canvas and paint small sections one-by-one in minute detail. He has gone on to create stunning renditions of iconic figures including Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard, Dame Vera Lynn, Clint Eastwood and The Beatles.
This Sunday 9 November, Matt will join other vision impaired ex-Service men and women supported by Blind Veterans UK at the Llandudno Cenotaph for the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations.
Blind Veterans UK, which has a centre in Llandudno, will also be unveiling Matt's newest painting that weekend.
Matt says "This year's Remembrance Sunday will be particularly important to me as it is 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. My grandfather served in the Royal Naval Air Service and went on to become one of the founding members of the RAF. He was Douglas Bader's flight instructor before Bader became one of the most famous pilots of the Second World War.
"I will be thinking of all those who weren't lucky enough to make it back - I did, and my grandfather did, but millions of others didn't."
Our No One Alone campaign aims to reach out to more people like Matt. More than 68,000 other veterans could be eligible for free help and support without realising it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss from any reason visit www.noonealone.org.uk or call 0800 389 7979.