St Helens war veteran new lease of life

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A blind veteran from St Helens is looking forward to a very Happy New Year in 2016 after a national military charity helped him discover life beyond sight loss.

Ron Hill, 81, started receiving support from Blind Veterans UK in January 2015 after becoming increasingly down because of his sight loss.

One year on, Ron’s life has changed.

As a National Serviceman, Ron was called up to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers from 1955 to 1957.

He served the majority of his time in Germany working as a gun fitter at 31 Armoured Workshop, Rotenberg.

Ron said: “I don’t know where I would be now if it wasn’t for Blind Veterans UK. When I lost my sight, I was very down – you think ‘what am I going to do now?’ But Blind Veterans UK has been brilliant, just brilliant.”

Ron lost his sight due to age-related macular degeneration and is now registered blind. On a visit to his local eye clinic, he got chatting to the ECLO (eye clinic liaison officer) who is a blind veteran herself, who told him he was eligible for the charity’s help.

Since starting to receive support, Ron has visited the charity’s centre in Llandudno for an introduction week to find out more about the charity and how it could help him, and he’s since been back for more training to help him learn to cook safely at home.

“Blind Veterans UK has just been unbelievable to me and my wife, Elsie. The magnifying reader they’ve given me is just fantastic - when my sight went, I couldn’t read anymore and I really missed it. I’m back at it now and it’s really good.

“I’ve already learnt so much, including things like microwave cooking, so that I can cook for myself. I’m a lot more positive about things now and I’m looking forward to going back to the centre next year to learn more skills.”

In February, Ron will go back to the centre for training in both woodwork and IT.

He added: “Last time I was there, I kept hearing talk of iPads and computers from the other veterans and I thought, maybe I could do that too!

“I’ve never done anything to do with computers or woodwork before – it’s surprising all the things you can do! I’m very excited to learn some new things.

“Blind Veterans UK has been great, I know that if I need help, all I need to do is call and they’ll be there.”

Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans, like Ron, discover life beyond sight loss.

The charity has three centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales and a network of welfare officers around the UK.