Long lost piece of military charity's history discovered behind Bristol skirting board

1 May 2015 12:00

A national military charity, celebrating the centenary of its foundation in 2015, has received an unexpected donation to its archives.

Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan's), was recently contacted when Laura Porter discovered an old letter connected to the charity, behind her skirting board. 

Laura, 32, from Horfield, came across the letter when she and her husband were renovating their home.

The letter has since been identified as an early appeal letter from the charity, dating from the 1940s. It is actually two letters double sided, one from the Lord Mayor of Bristol at the time and the other from the Chairman of the charity.

Laura, a musician and teacher, decided to donate the letter to Blind Veterans UK, the national charity that believes that no-one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone.

Founded in 1915, the charity provides blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.

Laura said: "I was surprised and excited to discover the letter the way we did.  Initially I didn't know what it was or who it was from but could make out the name St Dunstan's at the top.

"After looking into St Dunstan's a little further, I discovered that the charity was now called Blind Veterans UK and still going strong so I got in contact and offered them the letter.

"It's amazing to think what history could be behind all of our skirting boards that remains untouched for decades."

On Friday (16/01) Blind Veterans UK sent their Archivist, Rob Baker, to Bristol to collect the letter in person.

Rob said: "We were very keen to collect such an important document in person and were delighted Laura agreed. We didn't want to risk sending it in the post.

"The letter is an appeal sent out by Lord (Ian) Fraser who was Chairman of Blind Veterans UK for over 50 years and Ebenezer Thomas Cozens, the Lord Mayor of Bristol in 1941.

"It is truly amazing that this could have been sitting behind a skirting board for over 70 years. As we celebrate our Centenary this year, this letter will be an important addition to the archive."