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Blind veterans form friendship group after meeting virtually

Published on 8 Apr 2022

A group of blind veterans who first met at one of our virtual introduction weeks, continued to keep in touch and holidayed together at our Centre of Wellbeing in Llandudno.

Blind veterans Dave, Jim, John and Stuart attended one of our first virtual introduction weeks after Covid hit in 2020. The group quickly bonded over their time spent in the military and their experiences with sight loss.

While they’re all from different parts of the country and come from different backgrounds, they developed an instant connection and continued to keep in touch. They got on so well that they formed their own group, ‘The East Coast Boys’, attending a fortnightly quiz video call together, organised by their Community Support Workers.

Encouraged by their Community Support Workers to build on the valuable peer support fostered in the group calls, they met up for lunch in October 2021. It was the first time they had met in person, and they had such a great time that they decided to go on a holiday together at our Centre of Wellbeing in Llandudno.

Dave, who served in the Royal Marines, was unfortunately unable to attend the trip. However, Jim, who served in the Royal Navy, John, who served in the Royal Scouts and Stuart, who served in the Royal Signals, went ahead to make their plans.

Blind veteran John standing with his white cane, in front of our Victory Over Blindness statue
Blind veteran John standing next to our Victory Over Blindness statue

This was a big deal for The East Coast Boys.

There were Covid tests to arrange, Stuart had medical needs to consider and John’s wife, Sian, who joined him, drove all the way from Scotland to Wales. While Jim, who hadn’t left his home in two years, admitted to feeling nervous and nearly cancelled his trip. Yet they persevered with their plans, and from their very first contact with the team at our Centre of Wellbeing in Llandudno, they had an amazing time.

The group went on day trips together to a distillery, a model railway, a specialist food store and into town. They took part in archery and even had some time to relax at the centre. In the evenings they spent time with other veterans in the bar and took part in some quizzes.

Left to right, Stuart, John, and Jim pictured smiling and sitting down on a sofa and chairs together
Left to right, blind veterans Stuart, John, and Jim sitting down enjoying a drink together after meeting up in Llandudno

Prior to getting involved with Blind Veterans UK, Jim hadn’t met any other blind people.

Jim said that speaking to other blind veterans gave him new ideas. Both Jim and John described losing their sight as like ‘falling off a cliff’ and said that meeting other veterans who were further along the path was inspiring and gave them the confidence to try new things.

The group said their time in Llandudno more than exceeded their expectations. When asked to sum up their week, John said it was “Fandabliatico”. Jim said: “Great place, great staff, great people.” Stuart said: “I would like to book again right now”.

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch.

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