Centenary of blind veterans group is marked in Portsmouth

The new commanding officer of HMS Collingwood, Captain Rob Vitali. Picture: Keith Woodland/MoD

New captain vows to make base greener

  • Centenery of Blind Veterans UK is celebrated
  • More than 60 veterans were at the Royal Naval Club in Old Portsmouth
  • Call made for others in need to get in touch
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BLIND armed forces veterans have come together to mark the centenary of a group which was set up to serve their needs.

More than 60 members of Blind Veterans UK and their partners met at the Royal Naval Club in Old Portsmouth.

Many members are old friends and enjoyed the chance of a catch-up over a cup of tea before a three-course lunch.

A three-piece band called the Pocket Orchestra played music from the 1920s and 1930s, and after the meal there was the cutting of a celebratory cake.

Royal Marines veteran Mike Absalom, from Havant, was among the guests.

The 88-year-old began to lose his sight in 2008 due to age-related macular degeneration and joined Blind Veterans UK last year.

From left, Mike Absalom, Veronica Shiell and Will Phillips at the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Blind Veterans UK at the Royal Naval Club, Old Portsmouth ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151149-862)

From left, Mike Absalom, Veronica Shiell and Will Phillips at the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Blind Veterans UK at the Royal Naval Club, Old Portsmouth ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151149-862)

He said: ‘Unfortunately, the sight loss has meant that I’ve had to give up volunteering at the Tangmere Aviation Museum as I could no longer drive there.

‘Blind Veterans UK has been a great help to me.

‘By far the most useful training I have had has been on IT.

‘Blind Veterans UK has provided me with an iPad which has made it so much easier to keep in touch with my family.’

Blind Veterans UK has been a great help to me

Mike Absalom

Another veteran Will Phillips, of Fareham, said the group had helped him live a better life.

The 57-year-old said he had been able to revive his hobbies.

He said: ‘With their help I’m back into walking, photography and artwork and have been re-learning art techniques like sculpture at the centre in Brighton.

‘I’ve been given a new computer and practical equipment to help around the home.’

The group’s chief executive Nick Caplin said the group supported about 5,000 blind veterans across the country but there was still more work to be done.

Mr Caplin said: ‘There are still thousands of veterans with sight loss that could be entitled to our help.’