Paul and Danny's story
Both blind veterans share a love for music.
Paul Nuyens served with the 2nd Carabiniers, a French Cavalry Regiment although he was Belgian. He was blinded at Dixmude, Belgium in February 1918 and came to England soon after. He started receiving support from Blind Veterans UK in 1921. He learnt Braille, shorthand typing and, as a violin player before losing his sight, how to continue how to play while with us in our Regent’s Park base.
Paul formed the St Dunstan’s Dance Band with five other blind veterans and he also became the full-time administrator for the band. As well as playing his violin, Paul was responsible for obtaining engagements for the band and for organising their transport. The band played at private parties in London and places as far apart as Wolverhampton, Bristol and Bournemouth. They also played at nurses’ Christmas dances as well as public venues, such as the Café Royal and Imperial Hotel.
The St Dunstan’s Dance Band was always up to date and had well over 100 popular tunes in its repertoire. The blind veterans in the band like Paul would learn the songs by ear listening to volunteers play the music in rehearsals.
The outbreak of the Second World War made it much harder for the band to operate so in 1939, after 17 years, the band retired.
We have always tried to support blind veterans to not let their sight loss get in the way of the things they love and to not stop them trying new things.
A more recent example of this is Danny
Danny enlisted in the Army Catering Corps in 1962. He served in the UK, Germany, Malaya and Singapore and was discharged as a Lance Corporal in 1974.
Danny has glaucoma and retinal vein occlusion and believed that this meant he would never be able to sing again as he wouldn’t be able to read words or music. He told this to his Community Support Worker Jennie and this planted a seed. Jennie found other blind veterans in our Essex community who were also interested in singing and the idea for a new charity group emerged.
"When I lost my sight I thought that was it for me and my music. I’m so glad that I spoke to Jennie about it and all the work that has been done to pull the group together has been amazing. It shows that there’s nothing that we can’t do."Danny
Danny is the founder member of Vision in Song, a Blind Veterans UK choir based in Essex. They practice every week and and have just had their first performance. The band are able to use the specialist equipment and software that Blind Veterans UK provides to be able to learn their songs and perform.