A blind veteran from Beccles, Suffolk, recently met photographer David Bailey at the Brighton rehabilitation and training centre of military charity Blind Veterans UK.
Nick Barber, 56 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. Nick was one of 14 blind veterans to attend the week.
Nick says: “David Bailey is one of the main reasons I picked up a camera. They say it’s not always good to meet your heroes, but you can forget that – he’s photographed royalty, models and film stars, but he’s just a normal bloke. As soon as he started talking and interacted superbly with us all. Every photo he took has a story attached to it. I’ve always followed his career, but hear the stories actually come out his mouth is different to reading it on paper. It really blew me away.”
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 Nick 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.
Nick, who served with the RAF in the Falklands, has been supported by Blind Veterans UK since 2007. Nick has Bull’s Eye Maculopathy and Retinitis Pigmentosa, sight conditions which have resulted in significant sight loss in both eyes.
Nick says: “My sight went, and I went right down. I stopped being able to drive and I had to give up my job. It was very difficult to accept. It is still a challenge, but Blind Veterans UK have been brilliant – they’ve given me so much help. More than anything they’ve given me confidence again.”
What I love about photography is that I can compete with sighted people. My work is well-received, featuring in exhibitions with Chet Valley photography club. When I go out I’ve always got a camera with me just in case. It’s very rewarding to get back home with a great shot!”
When staff members at Blind Veterans UK found out about Nick’s interest in photography, they encouraged him to get involved in the charity’s photography club, and he has now attended six years in a row.
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.”
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.