A blind veteran from Knott End-On-Sea has been able to reignite his passion for golf thanks to Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Myke Worthington, 55 and originally from Cheshire, was an avid player before his sight began to deteriorate and had all but resigned himself to the possibility that he’d never play again. He says: “I started receiving support from the charity in 2014 and if I’m honest, I didn’t think that playing golf would be something I’d be able to do again. I’ve got Retinitis Pigmentosa and wet macular degeneration and as a result I’m blind in my left eye with only half vision in my right. I’m also colour blind which meant the snooker career had to be put on hold too!”
He continues: “During my induction with the charity I had all my basic training, in things like IT and so on, and then someone asked me what my interests were. I told them I was reasonably good at golf and would love to be able to play again but thought nothing of it. Not long after this, though, I heard about the golf society, and, after speaking with my welfare officer, was invited to a ‘getting back into golf’ training week in Llandudno. It was absolutely brilliant; during my first week we played a few holes and spent some time on the driving range.”
Dewi Roberts, the Activity Team Instructor at the charity’s training and rehabilitation centre in Llandudno, enlisted the help of Robin Hughes, a professional golfer based at the North Wales Golf Club in West Shore Llandudno. Myke says: “Robin is absolutely fantastic. Not only is he a superb golfer but he’s been trained in teaching vision-impaired golfers. They’ve provided us access to their course, spotting cadies and training facilities and so far it’s going great; he’s been analysing my swing and helped me extend it by quite a lot, though he did actually say it was already one of the best he’s ever seen!”
Myke’s own military Service began in 1980 when he joined the Royal Navy and trained as a Marine Engineering Artificer Electrical at HMS Fisgard and HMS Caledonia. During his 12 years’ service he also served on the carriers HMS Invincible, Illustrious and Glasgow, achieving the rate of Chief Petty Officer. After completion of careers’ service in 1992 as a CPO rate Marine Engineering Artificer, he spent some time in the building services industry, before eventually having to retire due to his deteriorating eye sight.
It’s the support of Blind Veterans UK that Myke credits as helping him gain the means, as well as the confidence, to revisit golf. He says: “I really can’t fault the charity. I was in a very, very dark and low place before, but they’ve really helped me regain my mental wellbeing. Even just the banter with the other blind veterans, it’s been a breath of fresh air.”
Indeed such is the level of inspiration and motivation that Myke now has, he has his sights set even higher than that of improving just his swing. He explains: “I’m in the process of gauging interest with regards to setting up a blind veterans golf tournament. I was thinking we could have the Llandudno centre vs the Brighton centre! My main goal, however, is to make the Ryder Cup disabled team. Eight of the current members have four categories of blindness, so it’s definitely achievable and something I’m working very hard to accomplish.”
To find out more about Blind Veterans UK and the work it does in helping blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women regain their confidence and independence after sight loss, please visit blindveterans.org.uk.
Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning WWII to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.
For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.
For all media enquiries please contact: Felix Arbenz-Caines, PR Assistant, Blind Veterans UK, 12 – 14 Harcourt Street, London, W1H 4HD, E: Felix.Arbenz-Caines@blindveterans.org.uk, T: 020 7616 7941
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.