Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK, previously known as St Dunstans, is a charity that supports blind or visually impaired ex-Servicemen and women throughout the UK. Their mission is to give all blind veterans access to the finest quality of services to help them discover life beyond sight loss. This includes providing lifelong welfare support, rehabilitation, training, long-term nursing, residential and respite care. It is their belief that no one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone.
Blind Veterans UK currently have three centres in England and Wales; on the South Coast, in the North of England and in North Wales. Each centre is a place for recreation, training and rehabilitation for blind veterans and their families. Each centre is slightly different, but they all help men and women who have served in the Armed Forces come to terms with their sight loss and build skills to live their lives to the full.
Help for Heroes is delighted to have provided Blind Veterans UK with a £1m grant, which has been used to assist in the extension of the former North Wales Medical Centre in Llandudno. This building is a state of the art rehabilitation centre that has already began to provide training and respite to blind veterans.
On the 12 June 2006, Help for Heroes Ambassador Simon Brown had successfully rescued six of his colleagues whose vehicle had broken down. He managed to get their vehicle going, but was hit by sniper fire whilst withdrawing from the area. A bullet entered his left cheek and exited through his right cheek, shattering both cheekbones, destroying his left eye and severely damaging his right eye, leaving him with only 19% vision.
Now - six years later - Simon is living independently in his hometown of Morley, West Yorkshire. This is due to a combination of support from Blind Veterans UK and H4H.
He explains what Blind Veterans UK means to him:
"As well as all the invaluable and practical support offered by Blind Veterans UK, it was the sense of belonging and understanding from their community that's really helped me to stay positive. I'm a member of the younger Blind Veterans Group; we meet up to discuss new ideas and initiatives, share a joke and keep each other smiling."
As well as being heavily involved in Blind Veterans UK, Simon is a member of H4H’s Band of Brothers and has recently completed treks across the Sahara and in Costa Rica in fundraising efforts for the charity.
In recognition of the hard work done by Help for Heroes, Simon says "without charities like Help for Heroes, so many blokes like me would be stuck".
His story exemplifies the fantastic results that can occur when charities work together.
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