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Blind veteran raises money for us by selling his artwork

Published on 2 Nov 2022

Bob, who is 91-years-old, enlisted into the British Army in 1949 and served for two years before being discharged and signing up for the Territorial Army with whom he served for another 16 years.

His love of painting has been with him throughout his life. At the age of 49, Bob began to struggle with his eyesight and was diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes.

He can still see images, but they are blurred, and he is unable to read words, but he's continued to paint and finds that it now helps to combat loneliness and helps to maintain his mental wellbeing. 

Bob displayed around 100 of his watercolour paintings at an event in Bury St Edmunds.

Brian stood up holding his camera
Blind veteran Brian with his camera
Bob is holding a paint brush sat at a table next to his Community Support Worker
Blind veteran Bob teaching his Community Support Worker to paint
Some of Bob's watercolour paintings hanging up and Brian's photographs below resting against the wall
Selection of Bob and Brain's work

Bob said:

“My love for art began at the age of five thanks to a particularly severe winter in around 1936. My Uncle Ted took us to the park to make a snowman and then suggested we make an igloo which collapsed on top of me and from then on, I didn’t like the snow!
“If we were sent out in it, I would hide in my sister’s room under a blanket with a pencil and draw.
“I now go to an art club, they sit me by the window so I have the bright light to help me and I can still enjoy all the beautiful colours I paint with. I enjoy painting lots of different things such as landscapes, animals, and buildings.
“My painting helps me by taking me away to somewhere else, many of my paintings are from photographs of past holidays and experiences and my artwork allows me to revisit those happy times.”

 Bob has been supported by us since last year and has been provided with an Alexa and tablet device to help him carry out day-to-day tasks.

He said:

“I really enjoyed the event and talking to people about my artwork. I believe about £150 was raised on the day from the sale of my paintings and of Brian’s photographs.”
“This exhibition was a wonderful opportunity to showcase what can be achieved regardless of sight loss. Bob and Brian are both incredibly talented and a true inspiration to others."
Community Support Worker for Blind Veterans UK

Bob was joined at the event by fellow blind veteran Brian who is a keen photographer and displayed several of his favourite pictures.

Brian said:

“I am honoured to have been invited to support Bob with his exhibition.”

Brian, who is 84, served in the British Army for 22 years. He began his career as tank crew but after eight years transferred to air crew and trained as a helicopter pilot.

He said:

“My love for photography began in 1951 with a box Brownie camera and has grown ever since. I lost my sight ten years ago due to age related macular degeneration and I thought my photography days were over.
“However, I joined Blind Veterans UK in 2017 and the team made me understand there was life after sight loss and encouraged me to give photography another go.
“I describe myself as a happy snapper and take pictures of anything that interests me. I have a normal camera and a friend helps me to set it up how I want it to be to capture the shot.
“The pictures I selected to display were some of my favourites. It may be they are technically good, or it may be that I just like them.
“I hoped others would like them too and they’d help to bring in a bit of money for the charity which has helped to make my life easier and encouraged me back to photography.”

Sallie-Ann is one of our Community Support Workers. She said:

“This exhibition was a wonderful opportunity to showcase what can be achieved regardless of sight loss. Bob and Brian are both incredibly talented and a true inspiration to others.
“The event would not have been possible without Lydia Granfield at Combat for Coffee whose venue we used for not only this event, but monthly for get togethers with our local blind veterans. Also, thank you to Wayne Ward who is our local contact for the NHS’s Op Courage who supported this event. Both of these organisations work closely with us to provide support for veterans locally.”

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