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    Joan Osborne switches the 75th Anniversary lights on at the Brighton centre

    As we celebrate the 75th anniversary year of the Brighton centre it was appropriate that Joan Osborne was asked by centre manager Lesley Garven to turn the lights on. Joan has known Blind Veterans UK her entire life and as a young girl she spent the Christmas of 1938 at the centre with her family, a time she remembers fondly. Surrounded by her family and her many friends Joan delivered a very moving speech before switching the lights on and illuminating the exterior of the front of the building with the Blind Veterans UK logo, 75th anniversary message and search lights.

    Joan and family this one

    Joan Osborne with her family and Centre Manager Lesley Garven

    Centre Manager Lesley Garven introducing Joan saying “Welcome everyone. Well, this is a fantastic occasion for us. We are celebrating the 75th Anniversary of this wonderful building in Brighton. It was opened in 1938 and the foundations were laid on behalf of Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Dunstan’s, by Lady Fraser for the sole purpose of providing a safe place for former Servicemen and women who become blind to learn new skills and take forward their life with purpose.”

    “This centre is much more than bricks and mortar – its about the people, they are the cornerstone of this building, and Joan Osborne and her family have been a cornerstone since 1938. So it gives me great pleasure in asking Joan to say a few words before we have the countdown to switching on the lights that will shine over the building for the next three nights from 25th to 27th October.”

    Joan receives flowers from a blind veteran.

    Joan receives flowers from a blind veteran.

    Joan began: “My father lost his sight, his left arm and sustained other serious injuries when he was 20 years old, when he was wounded at Ypres on the 31st July 1917. At the time he didn’t know which impact this would have on his life”

    “I was only 11 years old when this great new building was opened in 1938 and we spent the first Christmas here, together with the First World War veterans who stayed in dormitories. Women weren’t allowed to stay here but thankfully that changed, but not until 1985. We also came for Christmas in 1939 just before we transferred to Church Stretton because of the war. This building was then taken over by the Royal Navy and called HMS Vernon.

    “Happily I returned to Brighton in 1946 with my parents as my father was a Braille teacher and I was a member of the Music Department and it’s where I met my husband Bob.

    Joan Osborne turns the lights on with Lesley Garven

    Joan Osborne pulls the leaver to turn on the display lights on with Lesley Garven

    “Bob was only 20 years old when he was wounded; having lost his sight, an arm and lef in the horrendous Battle of Hill 112 in Normandy on 22th July 1944. Bob and I ran a shop here for 22 years and met some wonderful characters who arrived without hope, but they left with confidence and skills that prepared them to lead an independent life. Men like Dickie Brett, a member of the blind and handless group who went on to become a highly skilled carpenter. Dickie received great support and inspiration from the WWI veterans and this continues to this day when the WWI veterans in turn help the newly blinded Servicemen.

    “If i had my life over again I wouldn’t change a thing. I would like to say how honoured and proud I am to celebrate this occasion with everyone here.”

    75 anniversary

    The full light display celebrating 75 years!

    The Ovingdean centre has been a key part of Blind Veterans UK’s work since 1938, when the charity was known as St. Dunstan’s. In that time, it has offered comprehensive support for thousands of blind veterans. Thousands of veterans travel from all over the country each year to receive life changing support from Blind Veterans UK in Brighton. We are proud of the quality of our services, and we wanted to celebrate with the wider community all that we achieve through the spectacular light display.

    Currently, the centre serves blind veterans by offering respite, residential and nursing care, plus a ‘home away from home’ for holiday makers. As well as helping with fitness and mobility, the centres’ skilled staff and excellent facilities help give veterans with sight loss the skills they need to live an independent life.

    Afghan war veteran to take part in 100k walk

    An Afghan War veteran from Suffolk is calling on members of the public to sign up to the Brighton Marathon to raise money for Blind Veterans UK before February 28th.

    Scott McLaren, 29 and from Sudbury, is taking part in the Brighton Marathon to raise money for Blind Veterans UK.

    Scott served in the Royal Signals from 2006 to 2010 and did tours of duty in Kenya and Afghanistan: “Every day in the military was a physical challenge and I wanted to make sure I kept that mentality. Running the Brighton Marathon seemed like something great to aim for, and one that will help those who’ve served this country.”

    Scott was inspired to raise money for Blind Veterans UK after meeting a blind neighbour: “I’ve seen first-hand how difficult blindness can be and I want to make sure that those who have served in the military never have to deal with sight loss alone.”

    Scott will be joining many others in Blind Veterans UK’s London to Brighton 100k walk to raise money to support our work with vision impaired ex-Service men and women.

    Although Scott has never run a marathon before, it won’t be the first time he has completed an extreme endurance event. While serving in the Army, Scott completed the Lanyard Trophy, which takes its participants on a 40-mile march carrying 40lbs of gear.

    “After that, the Brighton Marathon shouldn’t be too difficult,” Scott says. Having raised £70 so far, Scott says: “I’m currently training and am up to about 14 miles, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready in time.”

    Marathon runner showing his support for Blind Veterans UK

    Marathon runner showing his support for Blind Veterans UK

    If you would like to support Scott to achieve his target donations, check out his Just Giving page.

    The Brighton Marathon is our biggest fundraising event of the year. Join our team to celebrate the 75years we offered continued our support, rehabilitation and training to blind veterans in the UK in Brighton. Don’t miss out on your chance to run with us and apply or call Aaron Tillyer on 020 7616 7927.

    Spectacular light display to celebrate 75th birthday

    To mark the 75th anniversary of Blind Veterans UK’s rehabilitation, training and care centre in Brighton, the building underwent some dramatic changes on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 October.

    The full light display celebrating 75 years!

    The full light display celebrating 75 years!

    The iconic building,that was designed specifically for blind veterans, is set up on a hill in Ovingdean. It was spectacularly lit for two days, with bright searchlights. The display fired our red, blue and white lights from the glass windows, drawing attention to the building in its 75th year and showed off the Blind Veterans UK colours.

    Long-standing volunteer at Blind Veterans UK, Joan Osborne was the one to pull the leaver and switch on the lights. Joan has a lifetime of connections with the building and Blind Veterans UK. Her father was a war blinded veteran of the First World War and she married a blind veteran; World War Two veteran Bob Osborne. She has continued to run the Brighton Club, a group that offers entertainment for blind veterans in house, including a weekly Wednesday dominos club and an annual bowls week.

    Volunteer Joan Osborne pulls the leaver to turn on the lights.

    Volunteer Joan Osborne pulls the leaver to turn on the lights.

    The Ovingdean centre has been a key part of Blind Veterans UK’s work since 1938, when the charity was known as St. Dunstan’s. In that time, it has offered comprehensive support for thousands of blind veterans. Thousands of veterans travel from all over the country each year to receive life changing support from Blind Veterans UK in Brighton. We are proud of the quality of our services, and we wanted to celebrate with the wider community all that we achieve through the spectacular light display.

    Joan receives flowers from a blind veteran.

    Joan receives flowers from a blind veteran.

    Currently, the centre serves blind veterans by offering respite, residential and nursing care, plus a ‘home away from home’ for holiday makers. As well as helping with fitness and mobility, the centres’ skilled staff and excellent facilities help give veterans with sight loss the skills they need to live an independent life.

    Spectacular light display to mark 75th birthday of Blind Veterans UK

    To mark the 75th anniversary of Blind Veterans UK’s rehabilitation, training and care centre in Brighton, the building has undergone some dramatic changes for two nights only!

    As ITV Meridian mentioned this morning, our iconic building set up on a hill in Ovingdean will be spectacularly lit for two days, from 25 to the 26 October with bright searchlights. The display will fire out red, blue and white lights from the glass windows to draw attention to the building and flag up the Blind Veterans UK colours.

    Long-standing volunteer at Blind Veterans UK, Joan Osborne, will be switching on the lights. Joan has a lifetime of connections with the building and the charity. Her father was a war blinded  veteran of the First World War and she married a blind veteran; World War Two veteran Bob Osborne. She has continued to run the Brighton Club, a group that offers entertainment for blind veterans in house, including a weekly Wednesday dominos club and an annual bowls week.

    The construction of the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre.

    The construction of the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre in 1938.

    The Ovingdean centre has been a key part of Blind Veterans UK’s work since 1938, when the charity was known as St. Dunstan’s. In that time, it has offered comprehensive support for thousands of blind veterans. Thousands of veterans travel from all over the country each year to receive life changing support from Blind Veterans UK in Brighton. We are proud of the quality of our services, and we want to celebrate with the wider community all that we achieve through this spectacular light display.

    To attend the display, visit Blind Veterans UK, Greenways, Ovingdean, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 7BS from 6pm onwards on Saturday 26 October.

    If you know of someone who Served in the Armed Forces, including for National Service, and is suffering with sight loss, Blind Veterans UK is there for them. We offer respite, residential and nursing care, as well as a ‘home away from home’ for holidays at our three centre’s in Brighton, Llandudno and Sheffield. As well as helping with fitness and mobility, we give veterans with sight loss the skills they need to live an independent life. Call 0800 389 7979 to request free support.

    Blind veterans take part in The Big Draw

    Students from St Bede’s school are helping blind veterans at Blind Veterans UK’s Brighton Centre to create an Art Deco-inspired 1930’s style textile screen.  Six young people have been volunteering at the centre since early September, following an enjoyable day in June spent gardening, polishing, and scrubbing garden furniture for their ‘Make a Difference Day’.

    Ellie from St Bede's School with blind veteran John

    Ellie from St Bede’s School with blind veteran John

    Guided by Kath Jones-Romain (Art & Craft Instructor) and Julie Basham (volunteer) the students have prepared materials to be made into collages during BIG DRAW week (21-29 October).

    The 2013 Big Draw runs from 1 October to 3 November in fifteen countries, with more than 200,000 people of all ages expected to take part in 900+ events.  Blind veterans, staff, and volunteers will all have the opportunity to make a collage as the prepared resources will be taken around the building.

    IMG_1425

    The collages will then all be put together to make a screen as part of the centre’s 75th anniversary celebrations.  This Friday the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre will be lit up to mark its 75th year in Brighton. This display will continue over the weekend until the 26 October 2013. For more information contact Esther Freeman.

    75 miles for 75 years

    A group of blind veterans successfully tackled a 75 mile Winchester to Brighton trek to celebrate the 75th birthday of the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre that has helped to transform their lives.

    Four members of the Brighton based charity, Blind Veterans UK, who are all blind and vision impaired, trekked an average 15 miles a day for 5 days as part of the celebratory activities that have been organised in the lead up to 75th birthday of  the charity’s centre later this year.

    All of the blind veterans have received support, training and rehabilitation at the centre in Brighton to help them to readjust to their sight loss and regain their independence. They walked alongside members of staff at the centre who acted as their walking guides for the event.

    Amongst the group of trekkers was David Cranson from County Durham. David, who served with the Royal Artillery in the 1970s, lost his sight much later on in life as a result of bilateral optic atrophy. In 2007 he joined Blind Veterans UK. Though David got off to a bumpy start due to foot problems, he completed the trek and said that the feeling of doing so was amazing.

    “The support we received from staff and members was fantastic. When we got to the finish line and we saw members of staff and other blind veterans cheering us on, I had a tear in my eye.

    “I would like to thank everyone for their help, especially Craig [one of the members of staff] who was first class in motivating me on route. I am a very proud member of Blind Veterans UK.”

    The walk was one of 11 events David has completed for the charity which he says completely rescued him when he was battling with sight problems.

    “I will always say I didn’t have a life before I joined the charity on the 13th of June 2007. I can’t thank each member of staff who has been involved with me enough since that day. All the supervision and advice they have given me is priceless. I lead a very good life these days and there is more to come from me.”

    Blind Veterans UK believes that no one who has served our country should battle blindness alone. If you know a veteran suffering with sight loss, refer them to Blind Veterans UK by calling 0800 389 7979.

    Top tips for your 75th anniversary fundraising challenge

    We are getting very excited about the 75th anniversary of our Brighton centre.  We would love for you to get actively involved in helping us celebrate it.

    So we’re putting together some tips to help you organise something fun in aid of our blind veterans.

    So, here goes:

    1. It is the 75th anniversary, so try and relate the number 75 to your challenge.

    2. Tell everyone about it.  Use Facebook, Twitter, your blog, even the local store’s notice board – anything!  The more the merrier, and it’s all for charity, so do spread the word!  Tell us about your challenge too and we’ll be happy to acknowledge you on our social media.

    3. We encourage creativity, but please do be sensible and careful.  Don’t do anything that may put you or anyone else in harm’s way.  This is not an episode of You’ve been framed.

    4. You can organise your challenge whenever you wish, but in case you want it to coincide with the lighting up of our Brighton centre, we are doing that between the 24-26 October.

    5. Tell us what you’re doing.  Email us on 75challenges@blindveterans.org.uk.

    6. Take photos.  Loads of them.  They’ll remind you of your participation and will bring along beautiful memories when you come across them again in a few years’ time.

     

    We’ve been thinking hard for fun events to organise, and here are our two top ideas:

    Idea 1: Set a 75-question quiz and agree a 75 minute time limit to complete.  Maybe serve 75 different types of biscuits at the event?  (If you’re an aspiring baker, maybe even bake the biscuits yourself!)  Encourage donations to take part, and give a bonus point to every team that has a participant aged 75 and over.

    Idea 2: Who remembers 1975?  In case it jogs your memory, it was the year Charles Chaplin got knighted, and the year Bill Gates used the word Microsoft for the first time.  Holland won the Eurovision with a song with the harmlessly annoying title ‘Ding-a-dong’.  In that fateful year, Phil Collins became Genesis’ lead singer after having been their drummer, and Francis Ford Coppola scooped the Best Picture at the Academy Awards with The Godfather Part II.

    If you were around in 1975, what were you up to?  Could you organise a 1975-themed party?  Maybe ask your friends to bring along photos from that year?

    (We predict that featured prominently in the photos will be bell-bottom trousers, chunky, unruly hair and long, unrepentant sideburns.  Bless the ’70s.  You have been warned.)

    And if you weren’t around, who cares?  Pretend you were and dress up like you imagine people in 1975 dressed.  We gave you a few tips already.  Maybe you and your party (how about limiting attendance to 75 people?) should go to the shops dressed like it’s 1975 and pretend like nothing is amiss and everything is completely normal.

    Everyone loves a good flash mob.  You can ask for a donation to take part in the flash mob, with the collections going to Blind Veterans UK.

    Now isn’t that a great day for everyone.

    Blind Veterans Tackle South Downs Trek

    The biggest hill the group climbed during the South Downs walk.

    The biggest hill the group climbed during the South Downs walk.

    This week members from Blind Veterans UK are taking part in a 75 mile walk across the South Downs. The trek is significant as it is marking the 75th anniversary of the Brighton building which takes place officially in October of this year. Throughout the year staff, volunteers, members and supporters of Blind Veterans UK have been tackling 75 themed challenges to mark the milestone year.

    The group of blind veterans tackling the 75 mile challenge.

    Blind veterans and Sports and Recreation instructor Steve Mills (centre) tackle the 75 mile challenge.

    As of yesterday evening the group had covered nearly 60 of the 75 miles routes of the South Downs Way from Winchester back to the Blind Veterans UK centre in Ovingdean, Brighton. The group have experienced tough conditions so far, with Craig Brindley, Sports and Recreation Instructor saying: ‘I think it is fair to say that we have come through every form of weather apart from snow’.

    Staff and members of Blind Veterans UK on the South Downs Way.

    Staff and members of Blind Veterans UK on the South Downs Way.

    Today is the final day of walking for the group of blind veterans and staff from Blind Veterans UK. The local public is invited to join the group along the last leg of the trek, started 150m south of the roundabout on the A283 before reaching the Steyning by-pass. The group hopes to complete the 75 mile walk at 4pm today and are being fully supported by Craig and Louise Timms, Sports and Recreation Manager.

    Find out more about the history of the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre or to take part in a 75 themed challenge email 75challenges@blindveterans.org.uk.

    You can read about more 75th anniversary challenges on the Blind Veterans UK website.

    Blind Veterans UK holds a Big Lunch

    Staff, members, volunteers, residents and holiday makers all recently took part in a delicious Big Lunch at the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre.

    Big Lunch 1

    The Big Lunch was started by the Eden Project in 2009, as a way to get as many people as possible to have lunch with their neighbours once a year in a simple act of community spirit. Since then thousands of Big Lunches have taken place throughout the UK. The Big Lunch can take place any time throughout the year but our Brighton centre took full advantage of a gloriously sunny day.

    Big Lunch 2

    The party kicked off with jive dancing in the Lounge, before moving outside for a  picnic lunch of ploughmans, finished with biscuits made by members.

    The Big Lunch  is just one of the many activities taking place this year to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the launch of our Brighton Centre.  Throughout 2013 staff, members, volunteers and all involved with the centre will be holding different challenges and events to mark the milestone occasion, which officially takes place in October.

    You can find out more about the 75th anniversary of our Brighton building on the dedicated 75th anniversary webpage. If you want to speak to someone about setting up your own ’75’ themed challenge, please email 75challenges@blindveterans.org.uk.