Veteran brothers reunited after 14 years thanks to Blind Veterans UK

Two brothers who have not been in the same room for 14 years were reunited by the charity that has supported them since they both lost their sight.

Blind veteran brothers who were reunited Arnold and Dennis Peel
Dennis Peel (left) with his brother Arnold (right) at Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre

86-year-old Arnold Peel, from Worksop and his brother Dennis, 88, from Worthing, Sussex, were reunited at Blind Veterans UK’s training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton this month.

Both brothers are ex-Service men with severe vision-impairments who have received help and support from Blind Veterans UK since 2014.

It was at Arnold’s golden wedding anniversary to his wife, Ann, in 2002 that the brothers last met. The brothers do keep in contact over the phone, but due to the distance between them it is not easy for them to meet.

Arnold and Dennis were keen to meet each other again so that charity’s Welfare Officers who support them were happy to arrange it so that both of them could visit the Brighton centre at the same time for a holiday. The charity also arranged a special surprise tea party for the pair to celebrate the reunion.

Arnold said: “I cannot put into words how much it meant to me, to be able to be in the same room as my brother again after 14 years apart. Dennis and I have always been close and enjoyed spending time together but it just became too difficult to do it as time went on. For Blind Veterans UK to bring us both to Brighton at the same time and throw us a surprise tea party was completely marvellous.”

Arnold joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1947 before transferring to the Royal Army Dental Corps the following month and served in Germany. He was discharged in 1949 as a Lance Corporal.

It was years later that Arnold started to lose his sight to age-related macular degeneration and was registered blind in 2010. By then, Dennis was already blind and receiving support from the charity and he recommended that Arnold should contact Blind Veterans UK. The charity has helped Arnold by providing specialist equipment and training to adjust to life with sight loss.

Arnold said: “Losing my sight was difficult but Blind Veterans UK have really helped me to cope with it. They’ve given me such useful equipment and training, for example I can help Ann in the kitchen because Blind Veterans UK have given me cookery lessons. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Now Ann and I are trying out new recipes together, which I hadn’t been able to do before.”

It was the idea of Blind Veterans UK Welfare Officer Alison Molloy to invite both of the veterans to Brighton to be reunited. Now, through the charity, both brothers have been able to enjoy a week together for the first time in more than a decade.

Arnold said: “Our Welfare Officer Alison has been wonderful. I am very grateful she was able to make this reunion happen. Ann and I haven’t been on holiday for a long time and both of us were a bit nervous about leaving home, but we had such a lovely time at the Brighton centre.”

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting www.noonealone.org.uk