RMT strike threatens once-in-a-lifetime event for blind veterans
1 May 2015 13:16
Blind Veterans UK calls on RMT to postpone national strike planned for 04/06
The proposed first national strike announced (28/05) by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union from 17:00 BST on 4 June will potentially have a catastrophic affect on a special event to honour a charity's 100 years of service to blind veterans.
Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind ex-Service men and women, is celebrating its 100th birthday with a special Buckingham Palace Garden Party on the afternoon of 4 June.
That garden party is due to finish at 18:00 meaning that the proposed strike would massively affect many of the almost 2,000 blind veterans currently scheduled to attend.
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, said:
"This Buckingham Palace Garden Party, our flagship centenary celebration event, will be attended by nearly 2,000 blind veterans. It is an historic, once-in-a-lifetime gathering of veterans within the Blind Veterans UK family, who are travelling to London from across the United Kingdom.
"This event has been planned for more than two years and the date cannot be moved.
"The average age of our blind veteran is 87; this is clearly an elderly group of disabled veterans who have served our country with honour.
"While we fully respect RMT's right to strike, Blind Veterans UK asks that the strike planned on the 4 June is moved to any other date this year, to enable this most special event for blind veterans to take place as planned."
One blind veteran supported by the charity who will be affected by the strike is 86 year old Trevor Berry. Trevor is travelling to the garden party with his wife Agnes from Liverpool.
Trevor said: "My wife and I have been looking forward to this for so long. Blind Veterans UK is a huge family and we were all so proud to have been invited to Buckingham Palace to celebrate its centenary with other veterans.
"I don't know where I would be without Blind Veterans UK. It has helped me regain my independence. This party is a lovely way to celebrate that and it's so upsetting to think that some people won't be able to get there now."
Blind Veterans UK has contacted both RMT and Network Rail, but has been told by RMT that plans for the strike remain in place.
Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan's) was founded in 1915 and the charity's initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in World War I. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning World War II to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.
For 100 years, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.
Visit blindveterans.org.uk to learn more about the charity's 100 year history and how you can support its vital work today.
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