President of Blind Veterans UK made an OBE

3 February 2012 13:12

Ray Hazan – President of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind ex-Service men and women has been made an OBE in the New Year Honours.

66 year old Ray Hazan learned of Blind Veterans UK, then St Dunstan's, after being blinded in 1973 by an IRA parcel bomb in Northern Ireland. His colleague was killed by the blast in which Ray also suffered severe hearing loss and lost his right hand. Soon after losing his sight, Ray was put in touch with St Dunstan's, which marked the beginning of an inspirational journey.

Ray said: 'When I lost my sight, I felt helpless, I was unable to do many of the everyday things I'd taken for granted with sight. I was visited by a member of the Blind Veterans UK team, who gave me a tactile watch and taught me to tell the time through touch. It was this practical support which for the first time made me realise I could regain independence - it was something to live for. I still remember my first day at what was then St Dunstan's. I heard the chatter and laughter of other members, and the positive attitude of those I met made me realise that blindness was not so bad and that I could go on to lead a fulfilling life just as they had."

In 1977 Ray joined the staff of the charity. He first worked in public relations and then the welfare team for the organisation. He went on to be elected as a member of the Council in October 1998 and President in October 2004. In October 2006, he was elected Vice President of the International Congress of War Blind Organisations, a position he still holds along with his presidency of Blind Veterans UK.

Speaking of being made an OBE,  Ray said: "It is a great privilege and pleasure to be recognised in this way.  I pay tribute to all those who have supported me over the years".

As President, Ray regularly gives talks to new members of Blind Veterans UK who are still coming to terms with blindness. Through this, and one to one contact with many blind and vision impaired veterans he is able to offer the support and camaraderie he so valued when he first joined the charity.  Although he would not admit it himself, many veterans look to him as an example of what can be achieved and he is an inspiration to them.

Robert Leader, Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, said:"I know that the whole of Blind Veterans UK and the wider sight loss community will rejoice at this very well deserved honour for our President."