Harry Talbot tells of his rich memories of growing up poor in Sheffield

17 October 2013 14:05

Born in Attercliffe, Sheffield in 1921, Harry Talbot was one of five siblings and the son of one the miners who joined the national miners’ strike of 1926.

A Sheffield born World War Two blind veteran who lost his sight as a result of Age Related Macular Degeneration has thanked Blind Veterans UK, for its one in a million support.

Born in Attercliffe, Sheffield in 1921, when 'times were extremely tough', Harry Talbot was one of five siblings and the son of one the miners who joined the national miners' strike of 1926.

Harry said: "Things were very difficult growing up. We lived without electrical lighting nor a flush toilet - instead we had a mass lantern and oil lamp and had to share a midden toilethidden in the back yard with other houses and families. At points we had to rely on soup kitchens and the little food we were given at school."

Harry initially worked at Sheffield Twist Drill and then in a variety of jobs before being called up in November 1941. He joined the Royal Engineers which saw him serve in France, Belgium, Holland and finally Germany. After he was discharged in December 1946, Harry returned to Sheffield where he worked for Firth Browns and later Sheffield Transport as a bus driver. He then became a self employed electrical equipment repairman.

It was not until years after his time with the Army that Harry began to lose his sight. In April 2011 he became a member of Blind Veterans UK which supports blind veterans with support, rehabilitation and training, regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.

Harry says: "The charity's Llandudno, North Wales centre is the best place that I have ever been to. All of the staff members there are the same - they are all so good and kind.

"I am totally blind now and have difficulty with walking. As soon as I enter the centre I am met with such kindness: I am given a wheel chair and a cup of tea, taken to my room where staff members unpack my bags and sort out my medication. I am given a bell too and whenever I ring it with a request someone comes to help me. The same happens when I am having a meal in the main banquet room - I raise my arm and a member of staff comes to help me with what I need.

"It really is the most fantastic organisation. I do not know of one better. It is a fact. I am going there again for leisure in a couple of weeks and am really looking forward to it.

"The charity really has been a boom for me, especially since the passing of my wife of 68 years.

"It has also been a great help when it comes to everyday tasks, such as making myself a cup of tea - the liquid level indicator they gave me allows me to do this, which is great".

An estimated 68,000 plus blind or vision impaired ex-Service personnel could be benefiting from Blind Veterans UK's services but they either do not know about the charity or they do not know that they are eligible for its services. Research suggests that the majority of these did National Service, are currently in their 70s and 80s and suffering from age related sight problems.

If you are or know of a veteran with vision impairment, go to or telephone 0800 389 7979.