Sunday Express readers generously donate thousands of pounds to Blind Veterans UK
6 January 2014 10:45
Thousands of pounds is donated by generous Sunday Express readers for the Sunday Express Christmas Appeal in support of Blind Veterans UK.
Throughout December 2013, Blind Veterans UK was chosen as the Sunday Express's Christmas Charity of the year and a campaign was launched to raise as much money possible for Blind Veterans UK so that anyone who served in the Armed Forces and suffers from sight loss can continue to receive life-long free support.
Generous readers of the Sunday Express donated more than £4,000 which will go towards helping people such as Simon Brown, 35, from Morley in Yorkshire. Simon had served 10 years in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and was on his second tour of Iraq when, on December 4, 2006 the corporal was called to recover a vehicle.
There were six people aboard and it was under heavy fire. He was able to get his colleagues out but, as they were leaving the area, he was hit by a sniper.
"The bullet entered my left cheek, exited my right cheek and made a bit if a mess of my face. Not my best Wednesday."
All the bones between Simon's eyes and top jaw were "turned to dust, his jaw broke in four places and his palate collapsed. His left eye was destroyed and his right very badly damaged.
"My world was bearable but very small. Then all these new opportunities and doors opened."
He was taken back to the medical facility in Basra Palace, put into a drug-induced coma and woke up in Selly Oak hospital on December 23.
"On Christmas Day I was compos mentis enough to understand the damage that had been done," Simon now recalls. "I'd gone from a full corporal in the army to a blind person and with my ignorance of this world I thought my life was over."
A year later he was referred to Blind Veterans UK through his welfare officer and his life changed. "I thought I'd reached a ceiling. My world was bearable but very small. Then all of a sudden all these new opportunities and doors opened and my ceiling just shot up."
We have three rehabilitation and training centre's throughout the UK in Llandudno, Brighton and Sheffield, which is the centre Simon first visited and learned to use technology that make the most of the 20 per cent sight left in his right eye.
We also advised Simon on changes he could make to his house, such as putting different flooring in each room to instantly differentiate between them.
Blind Veterans UK not only provides physical support but emotional support too and we introduced Simon to others who had had similar experiences. "Chatting to other people who'd been through this and getting hints and tips off them was invaluable too."
Simon now works full time for Blind Veterans UK as a membership officer, finding those who need support and making sure they get it.
Our centres throughout the UK were full for Christmas with veterans enjoying themselves and receiving support. Others, like Peter Price, had been given the confidence to enjoy Christmas at home again.
He says: "Before I joined Blind Veterans UK Christmas was a time for staying at home and avoiding social contact as I didn't have the confidence or inclination to leave the house. We would receive cards that I was unable to read or appreciate and Christmas decorations were meaningless. I was unwilling to help in the kitchen in case I got in a mess.
"I have now gained the confidence to get out there and socialize, even attending church services again thanks to my portable magnifier and Christmas these days is definitely more of a family occasion, even getting me in the kitchen with my sleeves rolled up."
It's not too late to donate to the Sunday Express Christmas appeal for Blind Veterans UK. Support Blind Veterans UK by donating online.
Blind Veterans UK provides free support and services to Armed Forces and National Service veterans who are suffering with sight loss. If you think you know someone eligible for our free support, request it today.