Nottinghamshire veteran looks forward to Remembrance Sunday march with Blind Veterans UK
15 October 2014 11:20
A former Army Corporal from Nottingham who went blind and had a double organ transplant will be marching alongside other veterans with sight loss on Remembrance Sunday.
62 year old Steve Shepherd from Netherfield trained as a mechanic, and joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1971. He served in Cyprus, France, and completed two tours in Northern Ireland.
Steve says "It was not a good time to be in Northern Ireland. There was a lot going on and it was scary. You could see bullet-holes in the checkpoints. My Dad made me promise that I would call him every night when I was out there. In all I was there for two years, and I did phone him every evening."
After leaving the Army, he went on to work for haulage companies and cabling firm Siemens. He had to leave his job when his sight deteriorated as a result of diabetes complications, and laser treatment didn't work.
Steve says "Becoming blind was like a bereavement. I remember just sitting in my chair and being told that I was now registered blind, and feeling that I'd lost something that I'm never going to get back again."
As an ex-Army man Steve was eligible for free help and support from Blind Veterans UK, we provide a lifetime of care for veterans with sight loss, regardless of when and where they served, or how they lost their sight.
Steve had a kidney and pancreas transplant three years ago, and since then has been challenging himself to undertake fitness challenges, helping to raise money for Blind Veterans UK.
He won a bronze medal for the 5k Run at the 2014 British Transplant Games, and has qualified for the World Transplant Games next year. He is signing up to the Blind Veterans UK annual flagship 100k event to mark next year's centenary for the charity.
Steve says "I never thought I would be able to do any of this. I have been on the most amazing journey since sitting in my chair and hearing I was registered blind. Now I can go out and cycle 30 miles in a day, and it's down to Blind Veterans UK that I've been inspired by other people who are doing the most amazing things. They're like a family, helping to give people their lives back."
Steve has taken part in the Remembrance Sunday march at the Cenotaph in London before and says "I would never miss it. If I have to go there in a wheelchair or crawl around on my hands and needs I would never miss it. It is a sombre occasion, and it's eerie hearing London so quiet for those few moments, but being surrounded by all the other people from Blind Veterans UK also makes it sociable and people are always glad to see each other."
Our No One Alone campaign aims to reach out to more people like Steve. More than 68,000 other veterans could be eligible for free help and support without realising it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss from any reason visit www.noonealone.org.uk or call 0800 389 7979.