Veteran takes centre stage at centenary service

Bernard Meehan (right) outside Westminster Abbey
Bernard Meehan (right) outside Westminster Abbey

A blind veteran took centre stage at a service to celebrate 100 years of a charity.

St Helens veteran Bernard Meehan, 62, appeared as one of three standard bearers at a special service at Westminster Abbey to mark Blind Veterans UK’s anniversary.

The service was attended 1,800 other veterans, staff and supporters of the military charity to celebrate 100 years of supporting blind and vision-impaired ex-service men and women.

Bernard said: “It is such an honour and privilege to be a standard bearer for Blind Veterans UK that I was a little nervous as I wanted to make sure to get it right.”

But Bernard had nothing to be worried about. He and the other two standard bearers marched through the nave and handed over their standards so that they could be placed behind the altar.

“The service was fantastic, the violin solo that was specifically created for the service was called ‘put your hand on my shoulder’ which was very fitting,” Bernard added.

“All in all it was a fantastic day and a great way to celebrate Blind Veterans UK’s centenary.”

Bernard joined the Army in 1968 when he was only 16 years old. He served in the Royal Signals where he worked mostly in radio communication.

Bernard was stationed in the UK, Northern Ireland, Germany, Belize and Denmark. He left the army in 1992 as a Staff Sergeant.

Afterward, Bernard joined the Territorial Army for two years before starting work for the Army again, this time as a member of the Non Regular Permanent Staff as a Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant in Manchester.

Bernard lost most of his sight overnight after he suffered a stroke in 2009. He started receiving support from the charity in 2010.

Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s) was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in World War I.

But 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.

For 100 years, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.

Visit www.blindveterans.org.uk for more information.