A blind veteran from Fareham, Hampshire, recently met photographer David Bailey at the Brighton rehabilitation and training centre of military charity Blind Veterans UK.
Will Phillips, 60, attended the event held last month as part of a photography-themed activity week run by the charity, which supports vision-impaired ex-Service men and women. Will was one of 14 blind veterans to attend the week.
Will says: “It was amazing. I asked him a couple of questions and it was really interesting to meet him, he was very down to earth and funny. He had some very useful advice including not to faff about when taking a photograph! It was great to hear about the fact that he’s travelling at the age he is, and is still publishing books.”
During his visit David Bailey was given a guided tour of the centre and delivered a talk to veterans supported by the charity. He spoke about his experience in Singapore where he served with the Royal Air Force, as well as giving an insight into his career spent photographing some of the most recognised faces of the twentieth century.
David Bailey says: “I thoroughly enjoyed answering questions from vision-impaired ex-Service men and women like Will who are supported by Blind Veterans UK. As a National Service veteran myself, it was encouraging to hear about the support available if I were to lose my sight, and I was very impressed by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of blind photographers who have not let vision loss stop them from getting behind the camera.”
After the talk the veterans were able to pose their own questions to David Bailey and some shared their own memories from their time in Service.
Will, who is affected by a genetic disorder that affects both his eyes, studied product design and photography at Portsmouth College of Art & Design and served in the Territorial Army (TA) from 1975-79.
Will says: “I’m now severely sight-impaired. The vision in my left eye is completely blurred and simple things like changes in light can make it very difficult to orient myself. My father was a professional photographer so I was brought up with it, but as my eyesight has got worse and worse I found that I was losing my confidence with it. It’s only when I joined Blind Veterans UK in 2014 that I got back into taking creative photos, which is what I love most.”
“It is not only the photography group I am delighted to have access to. Blind Veterans UK have provided me with an adaptable computer and offered me IT training which has made a massive difference to my life.”
After being involved with the Photography Club for a number of years, Will’s photographic work was recognised by the charity when he received the Founder’s Day Award earlier this year. He has also achieved success outside of the charity, with nine of his photographs featured at Portsmouth Central Library as part of the VI Photographer’s Exhibition, curated by Losing Your Sight UK, a Portsmouth-based charity.
Photography week is a dedicated activity week which takes place every year and is part of a larger programme which encourages blind veterans supported by the charity to explore their creativity whilst overcoming the challenges of a vision impairment.
Louise Partridge, Art and Craft Rehabilitation Lead at Blind Veterans UK says:
“Photography week is a chance for our blind veterans to rediscover their passion for photography and learn how to take photographs with their vision impairment. It’s all about showing veterans that with a few adaptions, a hobby like photography is still very much possible. The talk by David Bailey was a real highlight of the week.”
Note on image above: Will Phillips (second row, third from left) with veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK and David Bailey (front centre). Image credit: Mark Pile
For all media enquiries please contact: Ailie MacDonald Wilson, Regional Marcomms Executive, South East, Blind Veterans UK, 12 – 14 Harcourt Street, London W1H 4HD, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, M: 07599 535484, T: 01444 470016
Notes to Editor
Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK is a national charity that believes that no-one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone. Founded in 1915, the charity provides blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.