On International Women's Day we'd like to pay homage to the women who valiantly served during the Second World War. One of them is our blind veteran Janet.
Janet joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens) when she was 17 as a Wireless Telegraphist.
Serving during World War Two, she was stationed in Yorkshire initially before moving to Hampshire. Her job involved decoding Morse code messages sent in both English and German which was an important and highly skilled job during the war. She recollects being able to read morse automatically for years after the war, even thinking in morse when hearing a dripping tap.
“I served until the end of the war so I was 21. I was actually in the Wrens for quite a long time when I think about it – I was only young. I was based all over the UK in secret locations”.Janet - blind veteran
When leaving service, she trained as a Radiographer and worked in Central Africa for nine years. On her return to England, she retrained as a Social Worker which involved a lot of driving.
She began to lose her sight 15 years ago due to Macular Degeneration. She found her sight loss very restricting and was devastated when she could no longer do two of the things she loved - driving and reading. She says: “I miss having a car terribly. I live in a rural area so I struggle to get around because there are no taxi services and the local bus isn’t very frequent”.
Fortunately Janet found out about Blind Veterans UK and joined the charity in 2019. She says: “I listen to the radio a lot and one day I heard an advert about Blind Veterans UK. I thought ‘wait, that’s me! I am both blind and a veteran’. I got in contact after then”.
She visited our training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton for her introduction week and left feeling like she had learnt a lot in such a short space of time. Janet explains: “I really miss reading so when I was at the centre I wanted to learn more about the readers and other types of technology that could help me. I had no idea most of these things existed. I had a wonderful teacher called Jo who taught me how to use a reader so that I can read my letters and news articles. I was surprised at how quickly I picked it up!”
“The Brighton centre is fantastic. I was very struck with how lovely the carers and volunteers are. There’s veterans doing archery and all sorts – I’m not sure how they can do it with no sight but thanks to the charity they do”.
Janet is attending the Brighton centre soon for a holiday and to learn about more types of equipment that could help her. She says: “I’m getting an Alexa which is great because it would make listening to the radio a lot easier. I didn’t know about the Alexa until I went to the centre because they have one in every room”.
“I’m glad I found Blind Veterans UK because they fill a great need in my life”.