The art of willow weaving

6 February 2014 13:20

At Blind Veterans UK in Llandudno, veterans have been taking part in a willow weaving course, thanks to the Woodland Skills Centre in Denbighshire.

At the end of January, the Llandudno Art & Craft Department worked with three members who wanted to learn about willow weaving. The week included a master class with a local expert Helen Waterfield from the Woodland Skills Centre in Denbighshire, North Wales. The veterans who look part learnt a range of skills in particular they learnt how to make 3D plant support shapes and fish platters.

In the early years when Blind Veterans UK was founded, and was operating from St Dunstan's Lodge in Regent's Park, blind veterans were trained in new skills such as massage (physiotherapy), shorthand typing, telephone operating, poultry farming, carpentry, shoe repairing and more significantly basket weaving. Most of the veterans went on to return to normal life after World War I and made a living with these newly acquired skills.

Nowadays the same principals live on. Through teaching veterans the skill such as willow weaving, it ensures that they feel confident to carry on working with willow at home and regain their independence after sight loss.

One of the veterans who took part was John Pulling. He said "This training has been a chance for me to have a new hobby, something productive for me to do at home. Once I get a picture in my head, I carry on and before I know it I've finished. I've learnt a lot about willow during this time."

Another veteran who took part was Gary Tomlinson, who said "I don't like the word inspired but I feel inspired. I've got lots of ideas and am keen to carry on at home making willow items."

John Dix, who recently backed our No One Alone campaign to spread the word about the free services we offer blind veterans, said "The training is exemplary. It enables me to do things I wouldn't be able to do without. It's so helpful; you cannot exaggerate, as it's beyond that."

To find out more about the free services and support we offer blind Armed Forces and National Service veterans, or to refer someone visit our No One Alone campaign website.