Snow much fun: our annual ski trip

12 February 2018 10:00

Last month 24 of our blind veterans skied in the Dolomites mountain range as part of our 41st annual ski trip.

Among them was 41-year-old Lloyd Hanslow from Crawley.

Lloyd says: “I used to teach skiing and snowboarding so it was great to get back into it. But being with other veterans took me right back to my time in the Army.

Action photo of blind veteran Lloyd Hanslow snowboarding with a go pro
Lloyd Hanslow looking slick on the slopes
"My vision becomes even worse in low light so the biggest challenge for me and the other vision-impaired guys was when the sun started to go down at around 3pm. But we managed it with the guides’ support!"

Lloyd joined the Army just after he left school in 1992 and served in the Royal Engineers. Initially he worked as a welder, but later became an outdoor activities instructor, teaching kayaking, canoeing, skiing and snowboarding.

Lloyd says: “I worked with other soldiers in the gym, taking them for runs and organising other outdoor activities. I miss being out and about because it was a really enjoyable job.”

Photo of 3 blind veterans at ski week 2018
Lloyd (right) with his guides Richard Healey (centre) and Gary Quine (left)

Lloyd was eventually discharged from the Army after 12 years when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was years later, in 2016, that Lloyd lost his sight suddenly due to a severe optic neuritis, an inflammation of the optic nerve. This disease can cause some problems with vision in the short term, but it usually gets better gradually. Sadly this wasn’t the case for Lloyd, who only recovered 15 per cent of his vision in one eye. Lloyd says:

"At first I was calm, because I was sure that everything could be fixed. But when I went to the hospital the doctors told me that there was nothing they could do and that my sight would not be coming back. I felt disbelief, and was convinced that they must be wrong."

Lloyd started to receive support from Blind Veterans UK in 2017 after searching for support networks on the internet. Since then he has being given equipment and IT training to help him maintain his independence and enjoyed the camaraderie of meeting other blind veterans.

Photo of blind veteran Lloyd Hanslow with 3 others of the Blind Veterans UK crew on a ski lift chair
Lloyd (left) and the Blind Veterans UK crew getting ready to hit the slopes
"The software and IT training provided by the charity has really helped me in my current job as a data researcher. Blind Veterans UK has given me the opportunity to go back to a lot of the activities I used to enjoy before I lost my sight, like skiing! I can’t wait for next year’s trip!"
Action photo of blind veteran Lloyd Hanslow snowboarding