An 82-year-old blind veteran has said that he’s “overjoyed” to be spending the Christmas period with six other vision-impaired ex-Service men and women at Blind Veterans UK’s training and rehabilitation centre in Llandudno.
Arthur Harvey, from Halesowen in Dudley, has lived by himself since losing his wife four years ago. He says:
“If it wasn’t for Blind Veterans UK I’d have been sitting at home by myself on Christmas Day which would have been a pretty lonely affair. When you’ve lost someone it becomes the hardest time of the year as you remember all your good times.
“I’m absolutely overjoyed to be here with my fellow veterans. After we come out of isolation I’m looking forward to spending time with them and the staff. And I’m especially looking forward to our Christmas Day lunch. I’m going to love every minute of being here. This year has been very difficult as it’s been so quiet. My neighbours have been great at helping out but it will be nice to have some company.”
Blind Veterans UK’s Llandudno training and rehabilitation centre closed in March and remained closed until October of this year when it started to welcome back blind veterans who were most in need of support.
Seven blind veterans arrived in Llandudno at the beginning of December to allow for a two-week isolation before enjoying the festive period together. After enjoying lunch together on Christmas Day they will be watching the Queen’s Speech and having a traditional Christmas Day. They will also be bringing in the new year together.
Arthur completed his two years National Service with the RAF between 1956 and 1958. It was later in life that he started to lose his sight due to glaucoma. Following a gradual decline Arthur became totally blind in 1990. Luckily, he found out about Blind Veterans UK, who have been supporting him since then.
“After I went totally blind, I lost all my confidence. It was Blind Veterans UK who brought me back to my former self. This charity is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
“They got me back in the gym to get my fitness back up. And they gave me all sorts of equipment and training so I could stay independent at home. It’s small things like talking newspapers that keep me up to date with what’s going on and give me something to entertain myself.
“I can’t talk highly enough of them. They’re absolutely wonderful. And I’m so thankful that I’m able to spend Christmas with them this year.”
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.”
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.