A blind veteran has been making and selling wheelbarrows from his home in Northolt, donating all profits to the charity that supports him and thousands of other blind and partially sighted veterans, Blind Veterans UK.
89-year-old Bob Wyeth first tried his hand at wheelbarrow making during a visit to Blind Veterans UK’s training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton. He says:
“I’d seen another blind veteran making them in the charity’s magazine so when I went down to Brighton I thought I’d have a go. When I got home I told them how much I’d enjoyed it and they sent me some materials in the post so I could carry on at home.
“I’ve made about 20 since February and I’m selling them for £28 each. All profits are going to Blind Veterans UK. The charity do such a good job of looking after us blind veterans so I wanted to do something to give back. I know the money I raise will help Blind Veterans UK support other blind and partially sighted veterans in a similar position to myself.
“Making something like a wheelbarrow when you’re blind involves a lot of guesswork. But I’m fully equipped with the tools that I need like a talking measuring tape and the suchlike. It takes time but I can do it. It was a great hobby to have during lockdown as I think otherwise I would have been tearing my hair out.”
Bob completed his National Service with the Royal Signals between 1949 and 1951 in Dortmund, Germany. It was later in life at the age of 84 that Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma stole Bob’s sight which has been in steady decline ever since. Luckily, Bob found out about Blind Veterans UK, who have been supporting him since his diagnosis. He says:
“The support from Blind Veterans UK has been fantastic. They’ve trained me up on a special tablet which means I can send emails to friends and family. And they’ve helped me repair my garage roof so I can continue to have a place to make my wheelbarrows. I can’t thank them enough.”
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 will 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.”
You can keep updated on Blind Veterans UK’s response to Covid-19 at blindveterans.org.uk/coronavirus where you can also find out more about supporting the charity to make this new service possible.