Margaret and John were both supposed to be marching at the Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday with 100 other blind veterans.
But this year's march couldn’t go ahead because of the Covid-19 pandemic so instead Margaret and John joined 400 other blind veterans virtually for 'listen and join in' parties. These where set up to help keep isolated blind veterans connected at such an important time.
John has marched at the Cenotaph for the last three years and was disappointed that the march wouldn’t be going ahead this year.
John joined the Army in 1955 serving with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). He was based in Germany and his main role was to ensure that all the vehicles were in good working order. He was demobbed in 1963 as a first class Craftsman.
He says: “I enjoyed my time in service and all the camaraderie. While I was in Germany, I competed in a number of military motorcycle trials”.
John lost his sight due to Anterior Ischaemic Optic Neuropathy (AION) and Glaucoma and so started recieving our support in 2015. He began volunteering at our Llandudno centre when he joined, helping new veterans around the centre and teaching archery. He says: “I love being a volunteer, the staff are fantastic and I always have so much fun. The charity have been so good to me – they have changed my life”.
Since lockdown, John has not been able to visit our Llandudno rehabilitation centre so we’ve arranged for John and other members of the archery club to have a weekly catch up call. He says: “It’s great to be able to check in on everyone and see how they are doing. We’ve all become friends from meeting at the centre so it’s lovely to be able to keep in touch. The call is definitely a highlight of my week!”.
“I’m very sad that I can’t march this year with all the other veterans. I always look forward to it and it’s great meeting up with everyone from the charity. I come from a military family so on Remembrance Sunday I always think of my dad and my brother”.John
Margaret was also hoping to join the march this year after marching in previous years.
Margaret joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in 1942 and initially served as a wireless operator. She says: “It was hard, we got bombed left right and centre. I don’t know how I’m still here. I watched a plane come down at RAF Syerston. I had to send a message in Morse code to another airfield down south, to say ‘It is with regret we have to inform you that your son was killed.’ It stays with you, you can’t forget things like that.
Later in the war Margaret trained in Vital Communications and went on to work as a Codebreaker at Blectchley Park.
Margaret lost her sight much later in life due to age-related macular degeneration and started receiving our support in 2016.
“The biggest impact the charity has had on me was meeting and being around all those other people, many who had much worse sight than me, who were getting on with life.”
During lockdown, Margaret has been joining our calls with other veterans as a way of keeping in touch. She says: “I love military history so have enjoyed listening to all the stories.”
“It’s very disappointing that I won’t be marching this year but I do understand why it can’t happen. I will be joining other blind veterans from my area on Armistice Day for a group call though which will be lovely I’m sure”.Margaret