Ex-soldier from Liverpool to march on Remembrance Sunday with Blind Veterans UK

18 November 2015 16:29

A blind veteran from Liverpool will march with his guide dog together with other blind veterans to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday for Blind Veterans UK.

David Shelton, 67, and his guide dog Chelsea will join more than 100 other representatives of Blind Veterans UK, which this year celebrates its 100 years of service to vision impaired ex-Service men and women.

Blind veteran David Shelton and his guide dog Chelsea

David joined the Army at age 18 in 1966. He served in the First Battalion of King's Own Royal Border Regiment until 1969 and was stationed in Preston.

After David left the Army, he worked in various jobs before becoming a Hackney cab driver. Due to suffering from photosensitivity, extreme sensitivity to sunlight, David worked nights.

In 1991, David was in an accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury which led to losing his sight. He says: "There wasn't much advice on how to deal with sight loss back then and I didn't know how to get on with it. I didn't cope with it very well at all to be honest and found it difficult to keep going."

David became interested in several sports such as blind sailing, blind bowling and acoustic shooting. It was at acoustic shooting David learned about Blind Veterans UK. He started receiving help and support from the charity in 2013.

David says: "The support from Blind Veterans UK is great. Even when I was in the hospital with food poisoning someone came down to see me and helped me in every way I needed then."

David has received training and equipment from the charity to support him to live independently with sight loss. He says: "They've given me talking scales, talking microwave, a document reader and a tin labeller. It's very easy to get a tin of beans confused with a tin of dog food when you can't see them properly."

David got introduced to his guide dog, through the charity Guide Dogs, in 2013 and after several months of training he was able to take her home.

He says: "She's a great dog. I suffer from diabetes and take insulin regularly. One time I wasn't feeling great which I think Chelsea could sense as she got me my insulin. It's really amazing."

David will be marching to the Cenotaph for the first time with his guide dog. This year marks the first year guide dogs are allowed in the parade on Remembrance Sunday.

David says: "It means a lot to me to be able to march with my guide dog for Blind Veterans UK. Both charities have helped me immensely."

David and Chelsea will march together with more than 100 other blind veterans on Remembrance Sunday for Blind Veterans UK.

He says: "Remembrance is a solemn affair but there's such camaraderie among the blind veterans. It's a chance to say goodbye to old friends as well as commemorate past and current conflicts."

Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan's) was founded in 1915 and the charity's initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in World War I. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning World War II to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.

For 100 years, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.