Special Introduction Week for working age blind veterans
Robert, 40 from Alloa and ex-Scots Guards, began losing his sight six years ago due to macular degeneration. He recently, with his partner Anne, attended an introduction week at our Brighton centre specifically aimed at working age blind veterans.
He admitted that after being registered vision impaired two years ago he found it difficult to leave his home. He had totally lost his confidence and was depressed. A breakthrough came when he was introduced to playing bowls which gave him not just an interest and activity, but also meant he started travelling to matches all over Scotland.
Robert heard about Blind Veterans UK from Scottish War Blinded and joined us last July. The introduction week in Brighton was the first time he had been to a centre. He said,
“Everyone was very welcoming and I soon felt at home there”
Partners are always welcome to come to the centres and Robert’s partner, Anne, joined him for the week which they both enjoyed, not least as it was their first time away together without their two sons aged 15 and 9.
She avoided joining Robert in the gym and instead went with another partner on trips out visiting Brighton’s Lanes and Pier. One of the activities she did join in with was the cake decorating competition, not realising the sighted competitors were going to be wearing simi-specs which replicate different sorts of sight loss. As she said, “A real eye opener. All I could see was a blur of yellow and I made a real mess of the cake. It brought home just how difficult even simple tasks are with sight loss”.
“We were both made to feel so welcomed. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff. It was lovely being cared for”
A big part of the introduction week is the camaraderie – being back amongst other ex-service personnel makes for great banter in the bar at the end of each day. New friendships are made and past experiences shared. The connection of military and sight loss being a very strong bond. Robert said that meeting other blind veterans, some with far more disabilities than he has, was an amazing experience. He appreciated too that the charity does not “molly coddle – just provides firm encouragement and support”.
Robert left the centre with new determination to pursue his dream of becoming a physical training instructor. He already has a home gym and is now going to work on his fitness before returning to our Brighton centre in April for a full-on fitness week as part of his training towards a qualification. We have no doubt he will succeed.
Anne says she too is looking forward to returning to our Brighton centre later this year for a holiday break with Robert.