Wiltshire blind veteran to march at London’s Cenotaph on behalf of Blind Veterans UK

19 November 2013 12:55

61 year old blind veteran from Chippenham, Paul Palmer, is to march at London’s Cenotaph on behalf of Blind Veterans UK

A blind veteran from Chippenham. Wiltshire is to march at London's Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday on behalf of Blind Veterans UK. Paul Palmer, 61, joined the Royal Corps of Transport in April 1975 and was commissioned at Sandhurst. Serving in the UK, Northern Ireland (for two tours) and Germany, Paul fought in the first Gulf War in 1991 before retiring from the Army as a Major in June 2002. For the majority of his time in service, Paul's role was to transport personnel freight. Paul went on to work for a logistics company which took him to Afghanistan amongst other countries, and later the MOD and finally an oil exploration company.

Paul says: "I have had some very interesting experiences during both my time in service as well as after leaving the military. For instance, whilst in Afghanistan working with the logistics company, Flagship, I was struck by the warmth and kindness of the people I met there. They would have given you the cape off their backs."

Paul became blind as a result of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and right fractional retinal detachment. He is now only able to see in black and white. As a veteran he was able to become a member of Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Dunstan's, the national charity that supports blind veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.

Paul, who is now one of the charity's trustees, says: "When I first lost my sight it was very frightening. It's hard to describe all of the things you feel. You suddenly can't do the things you used to be able to do and took for granted. Things like just jumping in the car and going shopping.

"I began to really rely on my wife which I have never had to do before.

"I joined Blind Veterans UK in 2010 and it quite literally changed my life. During my initial week of staying at the charity's centre in Brighton and being introduced to all that it offers, I met the charity's Rehabilitation Officers for the Vision Impaired and they were just a breath of fresh air. They showed me where things were and how to use various pieces of equipment designed for those who are blind and vision impaired. I have also been able to take part in some excellent activities such as arts and crafts and blind archery which I have got so much out of. I now go out on my own, travelling distances even, which I never would have done before.

"I feel very proud to be a trustee of Blind Veterans UK. I have got so much out of being with the charity in the short time that I have been part of it and through this roles and sable to give something back. I am very proud to be marching on its behalf at this year's march, which is always a happy, though also sombre and solemn occasion".

In October 2012 we launched our No One Alone campaign which aims to reach out to the estimated 68,000 plus blind veterans who are eligible for the charity's services but are not currently aware of this. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces - did National Service perhaps, and are now battling severe sight problems - Blind Veterans UK may well be able to provide them and their family with a lifetime's practical and emotional support for free. Sounds too good to be true?  Well it's not. Call freephone - 0800 389 7979 or go to now.