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Blind veteran's "Blindfolded Bimble"

Published on 12 Jun 2024

Blind veteran Ian organised a 6km ‘Blindfolded Bimble’ in response to our Armed Forces Month campaign, which calls on people to organise activities to celebrate and commemorate key dates in the month of June while raising vital funds to support our work.

Ian, 44, and from Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, challenged walkers to pair up and take it in turns to complete 3km under blindfold while guided by their partner for the outward or return leg of the walk between Shanklin and Sandown.

An image of the back of two walkers as they make their way along the seafront. A woman is acting as the guide and a man is holding on to her shoulder and walking slightly behind
A pair of Blindfolded Bimble participants make their way along the seafront
Ian wears a Blind Veterans UK t-shirt as he walks alongside his daughter. Ian is holding his white cane as they make their way along the promenade with the sea beside them.
Ian taking part in the Blindfolded Bimble
The group of walkers pose for a picture at Sandown Pier
A drink stop at Sandown Pier

Thirty people joined Ian for the walk on 9 June which took around two hours to complete; among those were his two daughters who are nine and 13.

Ian hoped the challenge would give people a small insight into the impact of sight loss. He says:

“I think those taking part were surprised how vulnerable they felt when they put on their blindfolds and started walking. They had to really trust their partner to warn them of obstacles and changes in gradient and surface type. As soon as their partner let go of them, I was told they froze and moved their arms around trying to find their partner again.

"I am so grateful to all those who joined me, it was lovely to know they were by my side to support me and Blind Veterans UK."

“I’m sure the walkers were very glad to remove their blindfolds; for blind veterans like me that isn’t an option. This is why the support given by Blind Veterans UK is so important.”
Blind veteran

Ian enlisted into the Army in 2002 when he was 22 years old. He served for four years with the 2nd Battalion Royal Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and carried out tours in Iraq, Kuwait and Northern Ireland.

Ian's sight loss

In 2017, Ian lost his sight after he choked at home while eating dinner with his family. He says:

“My brain was starved of oxygen which has resulted in severe sight loss. A simple everyday activity changed my life overnight."

Ian's mobility and speech were severely affected, he had to learn to talk and walk again. Ian has now regained his speech and his mobility is still steadily improving but his sight will never return. He says:

“The occipital lobe is the part of the brain that processes visual information and translates what we see so that we’re able to judge distances and recognise colour, objects and faces but this no longer works."
“My sight loss has had a huge impact on my life. Everyday activities like taking a walk, preparing a meal, or spending time socialising with friends or playing with my two daughters became difficult and my confidence reached an all-time low.”
Blind veteran

Receiving our support

In 2018, Ian began to receive our support. He says:

“Discovering Blind Veterans UK turned my life around. They helped me learn to use a cane so that I could walk safely unaided, provided equipment like a talking microwave to help me prepare food and enabled me to meet and spend time with other blind veterans which helped me to imagine a life for myself beyond sight loss.
“Being able to meet others in the same boat as you means you are all on the same playing field and sight loss isn’t the first thing that we notice about each other."

Ian has also attended themed residential stays at our centres of wellbeing where he's taken part in a range of activities from footgolf to axe throwing. He says:

"My confidence has been boosted and I’ve been spurred on to spend time with family and friends.”

As the walk took place just days after the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Ian asked each pair to raise a minimum of £80 for our charity. He says:

“I want to ensure that other veterans like me can receive life changing support for years to come.”

Ian has raised £376 of his £500 target. If you would like to help him reach his target:

Visit his Just Giving page

Are you inspired to take on your own challenge for Armed Forces month?

Get some ideas here

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