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World War II veteran from Birmingham to join Blind Veterans UK at Remembrance Sunday march

Date
8 October 2014 10:25

A vision impaired 92-year-old World War II veteran from Birmingham is set to take part in the annual Remembrance Sunday march at London’s Cenotaph, representing national charity Blind Veterans UK.

Great Barr resident Sadie Evans says she is going to march "for all Service personnel, past and present" when she takes part in the commemorations with Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision impaired ex-Service men and women.

Originally from Glasgow, Sadie had been expected to follow the family tradition and serve in the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy when the War broke out - but decided to serve with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force instead.

Sadie says "It was just an automatic expectation that if I was going to serve, it would be with the Navy, because that's what our grandparents wanted. I don't think my grandmother ever really forgave me for joining the Air Force, but I wanted to do something different.

"My grandmother was a proud Scot and when she heard that I was going to do my initial training at RAF Bridgnorth in Shropshire, she said 'Fancy being with all of those foreigners!' Apparently travelling the world on ships didn't count as being somewhere foreign, but going to England did."

Sadie worked to support the RAF's operations and was stationed around the UK until the end of the War.

Of her last deployment, Sadie says "The Isle of Man was very interesting. Our work was obviously very serious, but we sometimes had the opportunity for a bit of fun. I remember one night me and some of the other WAAFs put our money together, hired a taxi and got the driver to run us round the TT racecourse as fast as he could!"

Decades after her service, Sadie started to lose her sight to age-related macular degeneration. She says "I refused to accept it for the longest time and I didn't think anyone could help me. That's when my ophthalmologist suggested that I get in contact with Blind Veterans UK."

Since 2010, Sadie has received free and comprehensive support from Blind Veterans UK to help her live independently with sight loss. She says "I was very surprised to be offered support from Blind Veterans UK - I'd assumed it was just for men who'd been in the Services. I'd never even thought of asking them for help."

Sadie visited Blind Veterans UK's centre in Brighton, and she says "That trip really brought me around. Before then, I didn't think I could really live a full life without my sight. When I went to Blind Veterans UK's centre, I met a lot of young men who'd lost their sight in Afghanistan in their twenties and were making the most of life.

"That's what helped me most of all. Blind Veterans UK doesn't feel like an organisation, it's a family. They've given me the most wonderful support - practically, physically and emotionally."

This will be the fourth time Sadie has taken part in the Remembrance Sunday march with Blind Veterans UK. She says "Remembrance Sunday means a lot to me - quite a lot of my family and friends served, so I'll be thinking about them. I'll also be thinking of my husband, Percy, who served in Dunkirk and Burma but passed away a few years ago.

"Both of my grandfathers served in the First World War, which broke out 100 years ago this year, and I wouldn't miss this Remembrance Sunday for the world.

"I'm hoping to do the march not just as a former WAAF, but also on behalf of Blind Veterans UK and all Service personnel, past and present, from the lowest ranks right up to the top brass."

Our No One Alone campaign aims to reach out to more veterans like Sadie. More than 68,000 other veterans could be eligible for our free help and support without realising it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss from any reason visit www.noonealone.org.uk or call 0800 389 7979.