A blind veteran who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) is backing our campaign this Remembrance to reach the 59,000 people who could be eligible for our support but do not yet realise it.
Winifred Armstrong, 95, says: “I’ve learned lots of new skills since joining Blind Veterans UK and met other veterans at social events – the experience has been fabulous! There are thousands of people out there like me who served in the Armed Forces many years ago and have now lost their sight, and I’d really encourage them to get in touch with the charity.”
Winifred joined the WAAF in 1942 at the age of 20. She worked as a driver, travelling all across the UK and driving two ton trucks for the RAF. Winifred was demobbed in 1946 as a leading aircraftwoman, and moved to Australia where she lived for more than twenty years before returning to the UK.
Of her time in Service, Winifred says: “It was tough work. One day I could be transporting equipment, the next I might be going to pick up parts of a plane that had crashed. A week later I could be driving the parents of a young pilot who had died to his funeral. It was the war, and I had a job to do, so I tend not to look back on it in a very sentimental way.”
Winifred lost her sight later in life due to age-related macular degeneration. Since her diagnosis ten years ago her vision has gradually deteriorated, and she joined Blind Veterans UK in 2012 after a referral from her optician.
Winifred took part in an induction week at one of our rehabilitation centres to help her adjust to living with sight loss. Here she particularly enjoyed getting creative in the Art & Craft workshop, and her family were so proud of her work that it is now framed and on show in her living room. She also took IT training, and has enjoyed meeting with other blind veterans in her local community at lunch clubs and reunions.
Winifred says: “I’d never done painting seriously, even when I had my sight, but I really enjoyed getting creative again. The staff even gave me some paints and canvases so I can have a go at home when I’ve got the time.”
She continues: “I didn’t know about the charity or think I was eligible for support from Blind Veterans UK, and I’m sure there are many others like me. If you are living with sight loss and served at any time in the Armed Forces, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You’re deserving of support.”