Brian Blessed has hosted a private audience with a group of 30 blind veterans from Essex and Hertfordshire, providing some much-needed entertainment as this period of self-isolation continues.
Streamed on Microsoft Teams, the blind veterans with an average age of 86 were able to join the call via telephone.
Brian vividly described his life story all the way from his school days to present day adventures, including his time in National Service.
“It was an honour and a privilege to regale some tales and provide some light entertainment for blind veterans across Essex and Hertfordshire. I have the greatest of admiration for the visually-impaired – the way they adapt to the challenges of sight loss and continue to thrive is an inspiration to us all. And I know Blind Veterans UK play a big role in supporting their veterans through these challenges. A fantastic charity thoroughly worthy of our support.”
82-year-old Colin Humphreys from Colchester was one of the blind veterans on the call. He says:
“This event gave us all something to look forward to and it was just the medicine we needed during this time. Lockdown has been tough for everyone, but I think without your sight it’s even more isolating. Brian brought the whole world into our homes through his fascinating stories. What a brilliant man. I can only thank Brian for putting on such an amazing event and Blind Veterans UK for making it happen.”
The presentation with Brian Blessed was just one of the many virtual activities that the charity now offers the veterans it supports. Blind Veterans UK launched ‘Operation Entertain’ last year to maintain the beneficiaries’ morale and prevent social isolation.
So far over 1,000 veterans have taken part in virtual social activities including online photography, woodwork, and art clubs. There are now 75 national groups of blind veterans and 102 local groups meeting regularly and supporting each other.
Blind Veterans UK has adapted its service to support its 5,000 beneficiaries, 90% of whom are over 70 and at an increased risk from Covid-19. The National Support Service has and will continue to help blind veterans through this period of social isolation.
Nicky Shaw, Blind Veterans UK Director of Operations said:
“Living in isolation, blind veterans need our help right now with daily tasks, such as the shopping, and constant emotional support through this difficult time. So we are temporarily changing our service and mobilising our staff to provide practical, essential support to help the most vulnerable.
“There is so much that we can and must do to support blind veterans to help them maintain physical and emotional wellbeing, and to feel safe, reassured and cared for during this crisis.”