Blind veteran visits Palace

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A man from Halifax who has received vital support from Blind Veterans UK celebrated the centenary of the charity at a special Buckingham Palace Garden party.

Albert Southerden, 82, from Halifax visited the palace with more than 1,000 other veterans helped by Blind Veterans UK, to mark the military charity’s 100 years of proud service and support to blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Albert served as a mechanic from 1953 to 1955 stationed at RAF Wahn in Germany. He thoroughly enjoyed his service. “I had a marvellous time; working shifts meant that I had plenty of time off. I even had my bicycle flown out from England.”

Albert has received help and support from Blind Veterans UK since 2006. He lost his sight due to glaucoma and later age related macular degeneration (ARMD).

He said: “My sight loss rather crept up on me, it was only when I couldn’t drive anymore that it really hit home.”

Albert has received a CCTV reader, a special piece of magnifying equipment, from Blind Veterans UK to allow him to continue with his decorative knot work that he loves. He now joins other craft-loving blind veterans at arts and craft weeks at the charity’s centre in Llandudno.

Albert said: “My introduction week into the charity was a real revelation. I didn’t realise that there was so much available to help me. It was a complete eye-opener, if you excuse the pun.

“As both my parents were WWI veterans, it’s wonderful to be part of an organisation with such a history.

The group has supported more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning World War II to conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, said: “It is a critical time for our charity as the number of blind veterans we support is increasing and this trend is set to continue.”