Blind veteran abseils hotel to raise money for charity

UNSTOPPABLE Rod Matthews and Carole Sharpe abseiled down the Grand Hotel in Brighton
UNSTOPPABLE Rod Matthews and Carole Sharpe abseiled down the Grand Hotel in Brighton
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A BLIND veteran has completed an abseil challenge, raising thousands of pounds for the charity that provided him with life-changing support.

Rod Matthews, 73, of Emsworth, helped to raise almost £14,000 for Blind Veterans UK by abseiling more than 100ft down the Grand Hotel in Brighton.

He was joined by more than 100 others, including four other blind veterans, for the mass abseil to raise funds for the charity which provides free training, rehabilitation, equipment, and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans.

Rod was amongst the last National Service intake in 1959 and signed on for six years with the Queens Royal Regiment, transferring to the Army Catering Corps in 1963.

Seeing service in Aden, Cyprus and Gibraltar, he was discharged in 1964.

He lost his sight in 2012 due to age-related macular degeneration and has been receiving help and support from Blind Veterans UK since last year.

Rod’s abseil was to raise money for the military charity as well as for his local Macular Society in Havant.

He said: ‘Blind Veterans UK showed me so many things that I didn’t believe I could do anymore.

‘It was great to be able to try out activities like archery and bowls at the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre and to discover that I could still enjoy myself.

‘I wanted to do the abseil to prove a point that sight loss shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to.’

The Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre manager, Lesley Garven, also took on the abseiling challenge.

She said: ‘I was absolutely petrified about going over the top but knowing that five of our blind veterans were doing the abseil gave me the bravery to go down.’

Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s) was founded in 1915.

The organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning World War II to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Find out more about the charity at blindveterans.org.uk