Jeni Morgan, 69, cares for her 94-year-old father, Des Dowding, from Ruislip, who has been receiving support from Blind Veterans UK since 2007.
Jeni said: “My sister Fay and I care for my dad. It can be quite strenuous since my father still weighs a lot and so caring for him can be very tiring. We have had to take on the role of carers since our mum died in 2015 and so have had to adjust our lives to caring for our dad.
“We are quite fortunate however, because we received help from Blind Veterans UK and then dad goes quite regularly to the charity’s centre in Brighton. They support us brilliantly and when he goes to Brighton we know he is being well looked after and it gives us a chance to rest as well.”
Blind Veterans UK currently helps over 6,700 veterans, carers and families to adjust to life with sight loss by offering training, equipment and respite care, as well as emotional and practical support.
Des joined the war effort in his late teens. He was posted to Bomber Command and then became a navigator. But he is lucky to be alive. The plane he usually flew in was shot down over Holland, but he had been stood down from flying at the briefing earlier that day.
It was when Des was 80 that he first started to lose his vision. Age-related macular degeneration quickly robbed him of most of his sight, making living independently much harder. Des had to immediately give up driving and could no longer read or watch football.
Fortunately, Des has been supported by Blind Veterans UK for the past nine years. The charity has given him the skills, confidence and equipment to keep on enjoying life, despite the challenges sight loss brings. This has become all the more important since his wife of 72 years, Lillian, passed away in 2015.
Jeni said: “My father has been helped enormously by Blind Veterans UK since he lost his sight. It was very difficult for him initially to accept and adjust to the loss of his sight, but meeting other blind veterans and getting specialist training and equipment has really helped him.”
As well as providing Des with frequent breaks to Brighton, Blind Veterans UK has also advised and given Des several useful pieces of equipment which helps him to continue living in his own Ruislip flat. Des enjoys listening to the football on his radio which is designed specifically for the vision-impaired.
He also has a liquid-level indicator which helps him make tea by buzzing when hot water reaches near to the top of the mug. He has also recently received new glasses which will help him to get out and about by reducing glare.
Jeni said: “My dad is delighted with all the equipment he has been provided with. It all helps him to live safely in his own flat.”
Des remains a very social man. As well as enjoying spending time with other vision-impaired veterans when he goes to the Blind Veterans UK centre in Brighton, he has friends who visit him most days of the week in his flat.
Jeni said: “Our whole family is so thankful that my dad is supported by Blind Veterans UK. He always comes back from the charity’s centre happier and with stories to tell. The charity really helps all of us and the Blind Veterans UK welfare officer who supports us, Susan Sims, is absolutely superb.”