A blind veteran from Oxfordshire has met Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO at the unveiling of a new national memorial to mark the centenary of the First World War.
Jim Wright, 96 and from Abingdon, met Her Royal Highness at the unveiling of the new statue, Victory Over Blindness, which depicts seven blinded First World War veterans returning from the Front.
The statue was unveiled by military charity Blind Veterans UK to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. It will be permanently placed outside Manchester Piccadilly station as a memorial to the injured of that conflict.
Jim says: “It was a great honour to attend the unveiling of the statue. Blind Veterans UK has supported veterans since the First World War through to the present day and I hope all who see the statue will be reminded of the charity’s important work.”
Jim was born in 1922 and joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) training as an RAF navigator. He completed 42 missions in four-engine bomber aircrafts and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion d’Honneur for his role in liberating France.
Jim lost his sight later in life due to age-related macular degeneration and has been supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, since 2014. The charity has organised for a volunteer to visit Jim once a week in his home.
Jim says: “Blind Veterans UK have organised for a wonderful volunteer to help me write my memoirs. It’s something I simply couldn’t do without his help and I feel very grateful that he is so dedicated to the task!”
Blind Veterans UK was founded more than 100 years ago to support those blinded in the First World War. Now, the charity supports veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.
‘Victory over blindness’ is a phrase first used by the founder of Blind Veterans UK, Sir Arthur Pearson, and continues to guide the charity’s principles today. Blind Veterans UK supported more than 3,000 First World War blind veterans with rehabilitation and training allowing them to achieve victory over blindness.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Her Royal Highness said: “This statue commemorates not only the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, but also the life-changing support Blind Veterans UK offers to vision-impaired ex-Service men and women since that conflict through to the present day.
“As we approach the anniversary of the end of the First World War and, quite rightly, remember all of those who never returned, it is also important to remember those who did, changed by their experiences.
“I have seen at first hand the difference the charity makes to the lives of blind veterans and I am looking forward to meeting many more blind veterans here today and hearing their stories.”
Visit blindveterans.org.uk/victory to learn more about the statue, the charity and how you can support its vital work today.
For all media enquiries please contact:
PR and Communications Executive
Blind Veterans UK
12 – 14 Harcourt Street
T: 020 7616 7955
M: 07710 859149