Name: Matthew Rhodes
Date of Birth: 7 December 1974
Regiment: 1st Battalion the Devon & Dorset
Joined Blind Veterans UK: 16 August 1996
“Ever since I was a little boy I had loved the way of the military. I joined the Army in January 1992 and loved the life I led in it. With the 1st Battalion the Devon and Dorset regiment I served in Germany, Canada and Bosnia. While on tour I acted as a Gunner. At the end of my tour I returned to Germany and completed my Physical Training Instructor. Two days later I was involved in a horrific motorbike accident just three days before my 21st birthday. My head suffered terrible trauma, not helped by the fact that I was not found for 3-4 hours after my accident. I was in a coma for ten weeks.
When Matt awoke it was evident that the damage to his brain was life changing. His brain injury resulted in an inability to translate messages from the eye, paralysis of the right hand side of his body, short term memory loss and -in Matt’s words, a lack of emotions.
Matt was refered to Blind Veterans UK in 1996 and since then has received a wide range of support, training and equipment to help him take control of his circumstances and enjoy his life again. “The moment I was registered blind, Blind Veterans UK was there for me, teaching me how to regain my confidence and independence.”
Prior to his accident Matt had not painted. Our Art and Craft Instructors identified via assessments that painting would be something that Matt may be able to participate in with his level of vision and other disabilities. They began to work with him, developing his painting technique with the help of equipment including projectors, magnifiers and special lighting that enabled Matt to make the most of the vision he had.
Sadly, due to changes in Matt’s health he is no longer able to paint. However the Arts and Crafts team will be supporting him in passing on his experiences to the Blind Veterans. Matt has also been supporting his daughter Bethany with the development of her own talents as an artist – one of Bethany’s drawings is also included in our auction and appears at the end of Matts Catalogue.