Samba beats and songwriting at our Music Week

27 April 2018 15:00

Activity weeks are a valuable part of our charity’s work, encouraging our blind veterans to try out new experiences or add to their already existing skills and interests.

Music Week at our Llandudno centre was no different, with blind veterans enjoying a jam-packed schedule of activities and outings.

Things kicked off with an afternoon of beats and drumming in the samba workshop.  We’re not sure who was enjoying themselves more, staff or our blind veterans and their partners!

Ex-Royal Army Service Corps John, 79, attended the week with his wife Elizabeth, who was visiting our centre for the first time.

Elizabeth says: “I came to find out how it was that the charity managed to change my husband in just one short induction week!” 

Both John and his wife had struggled to come to terms with, and adapt to, his sight loss which had deteriorated over the last ten years due to macular degeneration.

"Joining Blind Veterans UK was an absolute turning point for me. The charity has supported me with my communication, life skills and mobility. With the various pieces of kit the charity has provided, and the new skills I have developed, I am now able to lead a far more independent and fulfilling life."
Two men from the British Music Experience play their guitars
Our blind veterans had the chance to visit the British Music Experience in Liverpool as part of Music Week.

John Nicholas, in conjunction with Live Music Now, ran in-house workshops throughout Music Week, including a song writing workshop. He asked blind veterans to come up with places, characters, vehicles and vocations then he improvised a song.  The result was an anthem for Blind Veterans UK. 

"Everyone took part and I contributed the words, ‘Accept, Adapt, Achieve’ as a chorus being the mantra behind everything this charity does."
John talks about his contribution to the songwriting process.

Our blind veterans also recorded a very moving song called “The Ice Cream Man”. It is the story of John and Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Molly, who had been diagnosed with a life threatening heart defect and recently underwent surgery. 

John likened what the surgeon has done for her to what Blind Veterans UK does its beneficiaries. John says, “Molly has crazy hair and dancing feet and that was how the song started.” We are happy to report Molly is well now.

Other activities during the week included a music quiz with staff member Carl as quiz master. The winning team was led by our Facilities Manager Paul, who some might say had an unfair advantage with a living knowledge of the 1950’s. He's photo bombed here by second place staff member, and sore loser, Clare.

Staff and blind veterans enjoying a quiz as part of Music Week.
Staff and blind veterans enjoying a quiz as part of Music Week.

Our blind veterans also enjoyed a wonderful guided tour of the British Music Experience in Liverpool, an opportunity to play some instruments, and to relive 60 years of British music.

John and his wife have always had keen interests in music, she taught music and he sang in the church choir and played both keyboards and guitar.  John had not touched a guitar for some time until the visit to the British Music Experience, when he was introduced to playing it again.

The week wrapped up with line dancing at the Queens Hotel tea dance with blind veterans, their partners and staff having a fantastic time and, mostly, everyone keeping in line and in rhythm.

John says: “Blind Veterans UK has helped me enormously with getting my independence back and showing me all the things I can still do and enjoy”.