Veterans’ competitive edge shines in Gosport sports day

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BLIND veterans proved nothing could stop them as they played sport at a naval base in the area.

A group of sight-impaired former servicemen were at HMS Sultan in Gosport taking part in a sports day.

The Blind Veterans UK charity sports day at HMS Sultan

The Blind Veterans UK charity sports day at HMS Sultan

Former navy sailor Billy Savage, 90, was enjoying practising penalty shoot-outs.

He said: ‘This is my first time here. It’s wonderful to get you out and about meeting people.’

Partially-sighted Mr Savage, who joined the navy at 17, was the oldest veteran enjoying the day – but far from the least competitive.

The day was part of a week-long schedule of activities at the base organised by Sultan and Blind Veterans UK, formerly known as St Dunstan’s.

Brian Durber, 72, who served in the navy from 1958 to 1970, was among those at the sports day.

He said: ‘I’ve been coming to these for the last 12 years, but I haven’t got any better at basketball.

‘Since I started coming it’s like a big family. It’s one of the highlights of the year.’

Mr Durber is completely blind in his left eye and has no central vision in his right eye.

The men were having a go at sports in circuits yesterday morning, each having a go at basketball, taking penalties, and shooting hockey pucks.

Martyn Webb, the sports organiser from Blind Veterans UK, said the veterans were keen.

He said: ‘They’re extremely competitive – they’re dangerously competitive.

‘They’re still men and they’re still challenged by everyday events.

‘If you give them something to do, they’re up for winning it. We have to keep an eye on them as someone could damage themselves they’re so keen to win.

‘It’s great. It’s inspiration to all us ordinary people who haven’t got injuries.’

Staff at HMS Sultan raise cash throughout the year to fund the week of activities.

Volunteer Sue Povall, 64, helps out each year.

She said: ‘It’s so rewarding at the end of the week – running around with them – and they love it.’

The group will tour Gosport and see a concert while here.