Blind veteran lays wreath for Remembrance
Jim, who is 81-years-old and from Rustington in West Sussex, will be one of many blind veterans being supported by us to lay wreaths at their local events as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations.
Jim joined the British Army in 1955 at the age of 15 and served with the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. In 1980 he was commissioned and upon his retirement in 1993 he held the rank of major.
During his time with the Army, Jim had postings in Germany, Malaya, Borneo, Hong Kong and the Gulf.
In 2012 Jim began to realise he was losing his sight and during brain surgery in 2013, it was found that the cause was blood vessels putting pressure on his brain. In 2021 Jim was registered as severely sight impaired.
“I have peripheral vision only in one eye and the vision in my other eye is like looking through a net curtain at all times."
Losing his sight
“My biggest fear in life was losing my eyesight but when it happened, I was quite open-minded to what the future would hold and didn’t allow myself to go into a panic.
“There is not a great deal I can do about it so I had to learn to accept it.
“I was no longer able to drive but I manage to get around using buses, trains and taxis or I have friends who are willing to help.”
In 2015, Jim was talking to a former neighbour who was himself a blind veteran.
“He ordered me to get in touch with Blind Veterans UK. I did as I was told and have been receiving support from you ever since.
“The charity is a tremendous help. I went for a week-long induction course at your Centre of Wellbeing in Brighton and took part in many discussions and talks about living with sight-loss. My girlfriend was with me and she went along to talks specifically aimed at carers.
“I've been loaned a machine to help me read which I couldn’t live without, it allows me to control the colours and text size, and a couple of bright lamps. I get a magazine each month which keeps me up to date with what the charity is doing, and I take part in group phone calls and lunches every six to eight weeks. It’s fantastic to catch up with like-minded people.
“If I have a problem, I message the charity and you always come back with a solution or a suggestion. Nothing is ever too much trouble.”
Jim will be laying a wreath at the Rustington War Memorial. He says:
“It is very important for me to pay my respects as so many people through the ages have lost their lives in a bid to defend our freedom.
“I will be proudly laying the wreath on behalf of my fellow blind veterans. I wanted to take part this year as Blind Veterans UK’s Centre of Wellbeing will be moving from Ovingdean to within a mile of my front door. The charity has done so much for me and I want to show my support.”
The blind veteran population we support today is very different to that of the 1930s when our Ovingdean centre opened, and the average age of the veterans supported is now 87. Moving to this new building will mean we can offer different services, that far better suit the needs of these and future veterans.
Our new centre is situated right on the beach and will be at the heart of the community in Rustington.
The wreath being laid by Jim has been gifted by Thea Pharmaceuticals as part of our ‘Gift a wreath’ campaign and their ongoing fundraising support for the charity.
If you would like to gift a wreath in 2023 or take part in fundraising activity to support our move to Rustington, please visit our Gift a Wreath page.