Love is blind

11 February 2014 13:00

Andrew Bull was blinded in a bomb blast 30 years ago and now he speaks about how the nurse who treated his horrific injuries later became his wife.

Former soldier, Andy Bull, who was blinded in a bomb blast 30 years ago speaks to us about how the nurse who treated his horrific injuries later became his wife. Love entered Andrew's life exactly the time his eye sight left it, so for him love really is blind.

It was whilst Andrew was in hospital being treated for the horrific injuries caused by the bomb blast that had left him completely blind, that he fell in love with the woman who is now his wife of nearly 30 years.

The accident happened when Andrew, now 50, was on an operational tour of duty in Northern Ireland in 1983 whilst serving with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Wales. Taken to the main hospital in the west of Belfast, where he was given life saving surgery, Andrew spent 10 days in a coma. He was later moved to a military hospital in Dulwich, and it was there that he met and fell in love with Nicola.

Andrew says: "Whilst I was in hospital I was undergoing different surgical procedures to my face for the shrapnel injuries I had suffered. During this time I got to know Nicola, who had arrived at the hospital to begin her training with the Queen Alexander Nursing Corps.

"All of the nurses that cared for me were very kind, but something about Nicola stood out for me immediately. Of course, I wasn't attracted to her legs, face or figure, because I couldn't see them! I was attracted to her warmth, and kindness. I sensed straight away that she took her job very seriously, was very professional and that she cared an awful lot about what she did.

"The time I spent with Nicola was key to my rehabilitation. She made me feel as though regaining my independence was possible, and if course it has been. 

"Whilst I was in hospital l was visited by people from Blind Veterans UK who were themselves blind veterans - one of them also worked at the charity and is actually now its President. They had heard about me from Hedley Court [the armed forces' dedicated rehabilitation centre] and wanted to let me know about what the charity offers. Initially I was too overwhelmed to be able to take any information in - I remember being more interested in patting their guide dogs than anything else!

"It wasn't until I went for my introductory week at Blind Veterans UK's Brighton centre that I fully realised just how extensive the support they provide is. I couldn't; wait to get my teeth stuck into the training it offered. I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could so that, knowing I would never be able to join the army again, I might find a job in civvy street".

Andrew learnt how to tough type and also learnt Braille, which meant he could go on to work as a telephone receptionist at a local council, an organisation that he worked at for 25 years in various roles. 

Andrew said: "Blind Veterans UK changed my life after I lost my sight. I initially thought that I was the only person in the world to be blind, but the charity soon changed my perception of that. It has given me emotional and financial support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They always go that extra mile for you. "The charity and Nicola are what helped me to live a happy life again after my accident".

Andrew and Nicola now live in Rassau, Gwent, they have four children and are expecting their first grandchild in July. They are also celebrating their 30 year wedding anniversary in September 2015.

If you are or know of a veteran with vision impairment, request free support or call 0800 389 7979.