Blind military veterans from the US and South Africa have joined our blind veterans for paddle boarding in Colwyn Bay.
The veterans, the majority of whom were blinded in Iraq and Afghanistan, are currently visiting Wales as part of a week-long trip to the UK for members of the US organisation Blinded Veterans Association (BVA), through an exchange programme between the Association and Blind Veterans UK called Project Gemini.
Project Gemini enables Blind Veterans UK and the BVA to share experiences and knowledge about matters such as blind rehabilitation and readjustment training, vision research and adaptive technology for the blind. This year, two blind veterans from South Africa’s St. Dunstan’s Association have also joined the project.
The veterans will engage in adaptive technology activities and sports for the blind. As well as trying paddle boarding with Colwyn Bay Watersports, the group have also visited nearby historic sites such as Caernarfon Castle. They have also experienced driving hovercrafts and buggies and tackled the fastest zip wire in the world.
Major Tom Zampieri (Ret.), a legally blind veteran himself, leads the BVA group. He says: “This week is so important because the three groups of veterans are able to share helpful hints about coping with blindness and the “war stories” that are part of their personal adjustment to blindness and subsequent rehabilitation.
“This year’s exchange is particularly special as the group are visiting Wales for the first time and staying at the Blind Veterans UK rehabilitation and training centre in Llandudno.”
British blind veteran Colin Williamson says: “Blind Veterans UK is very proud to welcome comrades from around the world to Wales.
“This week has been great fun but what it’s really about is ex-Service men and women from different countries coming together to share experiences and support each other.”
To find out more about the free support our charity gives to blind and vision impaired veterans please visit: blindveterans.org.uk