Former Wren visits grand flower show with charity

Daphne Somerfield visits RHS Hampton Court Flower Show with Blind Veterans UK
Daphne Somerfield visits RHS Hampton Court Flower Show with Blind Veterans UK

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A BLIND veteran who has received vital support from a charity for vision-impaired ex-service personnel, has visited the charity’s gold medal-winning show garden at a prestigious flower show.

Daphne Somerfield, 93, and from Hayling Island, joined the WRNS in 1943.

She was invited by the charity Blind Veterans UK to visit RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show as part of a week of gardening activities for blind veterans with green fingers held at the Blind Veterans UK (BVUK) training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton.

Daphne says: ‘I had a fantastic time visiting the show. I was a very keen gardener but since having knee replacements I can’t do anywhere near as much in the garden as I used to. I do still grow my own fruit and vegetables though. My garden is still my greatest joy.

‘I joined the WRNS in 1943 and loved it.

‘To a young woman then it was all very exciting. Girls in those days were far more restricted in what they could do and the Wrens gave me my freedom. After leaving the Wrens I became a teacher.

‘It came as a huge shock to me, going blind. I knew my sight was bad but it was still a shock when I was told I was legally blind.’

She said of BVUK: ‘It is a wonderful charity and they have been incredibly helpful to me.

‘Meeting people of your own generation and in similar circumstances is lovely. I met two other ex-Wrens and we really hit it off. The charity arranged for the three of us to stay together at their Llandudno centre for a holiday at the same time.

‘I don’t think I have laughed as much in years. I think the best thing about the charity is their attitude that nothing is impossible, even if you are blind. It gives you huge confidence.’

BVUK provided Daphne with a CCTV magnifier meaning she can now read books and newspapers again, and she has been on IT courses organised by the charity.

BVUK supports veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.

Go to noonealone.org.uk.