December 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the untimely death of the founder, and first Chairman, of Blind Veterans UK, Sir Arthur Pearson, in a domestic accident.

Sir Arthur was a successful businessman who went on to lost his sight. His principled insistence that the blind, with appropriate training and ongoing support, could live a full, happy and independent life was radical for its time and still underpins our work today.

Sir Arthur's grave after cleaning it in (June 2021)

Sir Arthur is buried, together with other members of his family, in Hampstead Cemetery and we have a long-standing tradition of visiting it for a short service of remembrance each year.

Sir Arthur is also commemorated at our London headquarters by a striking portrait on display there. This was painted by Sir William Orpen, who had been an official war artist during the First World War.

Arthur Pearson in his office in Regents Park
Sir Arthur in his office in Regent’s Park

The painting was unveiled at a special ceremony at our then headquarters in Regent’s Park, London in 1923 by the Duke of York (later King George VI). Amongst those in attendance were Captain Ian Fraser (later Lord Fraser), who succeeded Pearson as Chairman of Blind Veterans UK, and Sir Arthur’s widow Ethel, who was our first President.

A photo of the unveiling of Orpen's portrait from the March 1923 issue of Review magazine, with a close-up of the piece in colour.
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