“The charity is Matt’s second family”: A Mother’s Day message

7 March 2018 13:00

This Mother’s Day the mum of one of our blind veterans is encouraging other mothers and children of ex-Service men and women to contact our charity for free support.

In 1995, Hilary was left devastated when her son, 43-year-old Army veteran Matt, suffered a severe brain injury following a motorcycle accident in Germany.

The accident happened just three days before Matt’s 21st birthday and put him in a coma for ten weeks, paralysed him on his right side, and damaged his vision and memory. It also impacted his ability to feel emotion.

Matt Rhodes with his mother Jackie
Matt with his mother Jackie
"The brain damage left Matt with many disabilities. I knew that physically, he would never be the same again, but I was just so relieved that he was still alive. At that point we had no idea how well he would handle his recovery.”"

Matt joined the 1st Battalion Devon and Dorset regiment in 1992, and served in Germany, Canada and Bosnia. He was the top gunner for the Infantry tank the Warrior and following successful completion of his tour he moved to Germany where he became a level three physical training instructor.

After his accident Matt was registered blind and referred to our charity. Since then he has receiving a wide range of support, training and equipment to help him cope with his sight loss and enjoy his life again. For his mum, Hilary, the our support has been life changing.

Matt Rhodes in Bosnia
Matt when stationed in Bosnia
"Blind Veterans UK did so much for Matt when he lost his sight. He was an independent man who loved being in the Army before his accident, and the charity helped him to get that life back again."

Besides life skills training, Matt has also regained his love of extreme sports. He has competed in dressage, tried water paragliding, completed a tandem sky dive, run the London Marathon and swum between Brighton's two piers using just the arm he retains movement in.

Matt Rhodes with his family
Matt with his family (Hilary right)

 Hilary says: “I have no words to express my gratitude for Blind Veterans UK. The charity is Matt’s second family. It’s a big relief to know that even if I’m not here one day, Blind Veterans UK will look for him and his family for the rest of their lives.”