Stoke D-Day veteran marches on Remembrance Sunday with Blind Veterans UK
3 November 2015 16:11
A local blind veteran who has received vital support from Blind Veterans UK marched with the military charity at the Cenotaph for the first time on Remembrance Sunday (08/11).
Bill Brant, 94 and from Tean, marched with more than 100 other blind and vision-impaired veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK.
Bill served in the Royal Air Force as a driver during the Second World War and is a veteran of D-Day, 6 June 1944, which began the largest seaborne invasion in history and the liberation of northwest Europe from Nazi control.
Bill says: "My job on D-Day and the days that followed was to drive Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay in 1304 Mobile Wing and we arrived in the second practical invasion group."
He was discharged in 1946 as a Leading Aircraftsman.
Bill began to lose his sight 10 years ago due to age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), a major cause of blindness and vision impairment in older people.
Bill says, "I have always been a very active person but my sight has been getting worse for quite a while now. I have no central vision which makes recognising faces difficult."
Bill was referred to Blind Veterans UK by his local hospital and started receiving support from the charity this year. He has been for an induction week at one of the charity's training centres in Sheffield and has received specialist training and equipment from the charity to allow him to continue to live as independently as possible.
He says, "I had a lovely week at Sheffield and, as well as the training, I tried out lots of activities like Ten Pin Bowling.
"The best piece of equipment I have been given is a CCTV reader. This blows up any document to a huge size and has allowed me to look after my own affairs again."
Bill marched to the Cenotaph for the first time joining other vision-impaired ex-Service men and women supported by Blind Veterans UK as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations on Sunday 8 November 2015.
He adds, "Remembrance Sunday is such an important day. When you've served you realise that it's not like civilian life and the day is about remembering the mates you served with.
"Being part of the parade and marching to the Cenotaph was out of this world. I'm so pleased to have met and marched with so many other blind veterans - it was a real honour."
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.