It's amazing how important a cup of tea can become

9 January 2014 12:30

It's amazing how important a cup of tea can become to a blind veteran. Mark Threadgold explains his breakthrough moment when receiving free support from Blind Veterans UK.

Blind veteran Mark Threadgold served as an Electronics Engineer with the Royal Corps of Signals for several years but lost his sight years later in an accident which lead to total blindness.

When his accident first happened he was taken to Headley Court in Epsom, a medical rehabilitation unit for service personnel. They focussed on helping Mark overcome his physical injuries but at the time, did not have the expertise available to help Mark come to terms with his biggest challenge - the total loss of his sight. He felt isolated and alone.

A few weeks into his stay at Headley Court he met a Rehabilitation Officer for Vision Impaired (ROVI) from Blind Veterans UK. He was invited to Blind Veterans UK's centre in Brighton where he was given a lifeline and helped to build his life again. It started with small steps - the first thing was being given a Dictaphone to help him keep up with the routine of the day. Then, helping him with small steps towards independence, including cooking, cleaning, going out alone and living independently.

Through receiving free support from Blind Veterans UK, Mark was able to adjust to his sight loss, overcome challenges of blindness and regain his independence. Mark says: "I suppose everyone who has been helped by Blind Veterans UK at one of their centres will have his or her own breakthrough moment, when they see a glimmer of hope for the future. For me, it was the first time I made a cup of tea.

"I'd been taught how to use a liquid level indicator which beeps when a cup is filled. I'd used it in training, but this time was different. My Rehab officer found me grinning like a Cheshire cat because it had dawned on me, all that this simple cup of tea represented. I can make a cup of tea any time I want one. I'm my own man; I don't have to rely on anyone." A keen water sports enthusiast, Mark wasn't going to let his sight loss hold him back. In August 2002, Mark set a new powerboat World Record, by driving a rigid inflatable boat around the Isle of Wight, a distance of 57.74 nautical miles, in just 1 hour 50 minutes.

Mark has also set the World Blind Water Speed record in 2003 at Lake Windermere in a Bladerunner offshore racing powerboat. Mark continues with scuba diving which he has a real passion for and has set the World Record for the deepest dive by a blind person after plunging to a depth of more than 100 metres in Egypt's Red Sea. He beat his previous personal best by more than 30 metres to reach a record 103 metres below sea level at the Blue Hole near Dahab.

This year, Mark hopes to achieve something closer to home by taking a computer skills course at Blind Veterans UK so he can develop his knowledge for the future. It's amazing how important a cup of tea can become for a blind veteran like Mark.

You can support Mark his in journey to life beyond sight loss by visiting our January appeal.