Brave Emsworth veteran abseils down Brighton hotel

Rod Matthews and Carole Sharpe abseil down the Grand Hotel in Brighton
Rod Matthews and Carole Sharpe abseil down the Grand Hotel in Brighton
The boardwalks at Port Solent this evening, as visitors enjoyed the Festival of Christmas

Festival of Christmas draws hundreds of shoppers and traders to Port Solent

  • Brave Rod Matthews abseiled down the Grand Hotel, in Brighton, despite being blind
  • He wanted to give something back to Blind Veterans UK who have supported him
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Abseiling down a tower can be a scary experience, but not many people would think to do it if they were blind.

That didn’t stop Rod Matthews from abseiling down the Grand Hotel in Brighton.

I wanted to do it to prove a point that sight loss shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to

Rod Matthews

The veteran, from Emsworth, took part in the challenge to raise money for Blind Veterans UK who have given him life-changing support.

Rod, 73, was among the last National Service intake in 1959. He signed on for six years with the Queen’s Royal Regiment and transferred 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.

As well as raising money for Blind Veterans UK, Rod was also fundraising for the Macular Society in Havant.

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

‘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.’

Rod had only ever abseiled once before, so was thrilled to head down the Grand Hotel.

He adds: ‘I wanted to do it to prove a point that sight loss shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to. I abseiled down with Carole Sharpe and she is completely blind.

‘We joked that we didn’t have to worry as much as everyone else as we couldn’t see the bottom!’

The Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre manager Lesley Garven also took on the challenge, which has raised £14,000 for the charity.

Lesley says: ‘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.’

For more information visit blindveterans.org.uk.