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    Poems by Paul Jacobs

    To celebrate National Poetry Day we are sharing poetry from one of our very talented blind ex-Service men Paul Jacobs.

    Paul Jacobs GM, served with the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, and was blinded on Afghanistan’s frontline on 20th August 2009. He was awarded the prestigious George Medal for bravery as he continued to protect his colleagues after he was wounded.

    His medal citation read: “His sheer personal courage and startling determination, unswerving courage, selflessness, devotion to duty and dedication to his comrades was faultless.”

    This moving poem doesn’t have a name but was by Paul Jacobs GM on 20 August 2014 on the 5th anniversary of the day he was blinded.

    I have only two weeks before I fly over the seas

    And over the mountains to take up the fight with my country’s enemies

    But these two weeks I will remember

    Because this will be the last time I see my country with my sight

    I know my time is getting shorter by the day

    So do I tell my mother that I love her

     

    Another day in Helmand with my uniform on

    The sun beating on my face

    Rifle in hand I step on a mine

    There’s a flash and a bang

    And now it’s all over for the lone soldier

     

    Wounded I may be

    These marks of war you can see

    But the biggest scar is where the heart is

    The worst kind of scar is mentally not being me

    If you would like to hear more of Paul’s beautiful poetry click here.

    There are over 68,000 vision impaired veterans who could be eligible for support, but are not currently receiving it. Request our free, lifelong support for a blind veteran by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting www.noonealone.org.uk

    Andy Fallons’ photographic project for Blind Veterans UK

    Andy Fallon, a commercial portrait photographer and Art Director based in London, has been working on a photographic and audio collaboration at our Brighton Centre.

    With over 15 years of photography experience he has worked for The Sunday Times, The guardian and the Telegraph but he says he is “motivated to explore a style of portrait that enables a blind or partial sighted individual to share the experience of a portrait session.”

    He has decided to work on this unique project to produce colour light paintings  as many of our blind or partially sighted veterans have been photographed before but they are not able to see the final images. Andy says “my aim was to find a way that the veterans could visualise the final image through the techniques used to capture the light.”

    Many of the veterans are partially sighted but there are also some individuals that are completely blind, so before anything was set up, Andy spoke to them that he could understand their experience of light. He found that those who are completely blind have no sense of light and dark, to address this he used daylight heat lamps that provide a sensation of warmth as light is guided around the face so that the veterans could feel the light.

    The light he has chosen to use is also soft enough as not to produce discomfort to those with partial sight. They leave trace patterns on the photographic image so the viewer can also understand the veterans experience of the heat and light.

    Each portrait is taken in complete darkness with only the heat lamps illuminating the subject to expose the photograph.

    Andy plans to display the images with an audio accompaniment where each veteran will talk about their military service, losing their sight and the experience they have had with light portraits.

    When asked what he would like the project would achieve, Andy said “I hope that the project will draw attention to the positive work of Blind Veterans UK and the incredible work it does to enable a fuller life for the veterans. The intention is to include a complete age range of the veterans to show the ongoing work the charity is involved with.”

    Andy has said that it is important to him that the portraits produced are a positive reflection of Blind Veterans UK so he stayed away from producing any gritty black and white images.

    If you would like to find out more about how we help blind veterans please visit our website, if you would like to keep up-to-date with Andy’s work please visit his website.

    Artwave exhibition. By Jonathan Jones

    We hosted an Artwave exhibition at our Brighton centre’s chapel for three weekends as part of the 2014 Artwave Festival. The event was a huge success and we caught up with Jonathan Jones who visited to hear his thoughts.

     
    “Frank has worn away the table at which he spends every morning working on his rocking horses.”
    This is the phrase that will last with me from my visit to the Blind Veterans UK Arts and Crafts exhibition. Every member of staff I spoke to on the day were captivated with Frank Tinsley and his rocking horses. Volunteers, full-time and part-time staff were enamored with the skill and workmanship that went into creating his amazing pieces.

     

    Artwave
    The exhibition at the Blind Veterans UK centre chapel was heart-warming, as well as showing a range of abilities that make Blind Veterans UK such a worthwhile charity.

     

    Frank Tinsley, a 93 year old war veteran, had a number of rocking horses on display which captured the imagination of everyone at the exhibition. Speaking to Kirsty Franks, a volunteer, she said “I like the pink one the most because it has been completed to such a high standard. It’s amazing to think that he’s completely blind but can make such perfect rocking horses.”

     

    There were a number of toys and games that were fantastic throughout the event including a bright and glittery beetle variation of a game I simply know as ‘The Beetle Game’. It was my favourite and it stood proudly outside the entrance to the exhibition.

     

    A cute version of the traditional game noughts and crosses, made into hearts and flowers caught my eye as it would have made the perfect gift for my (much younger) little sister, had it not already been bought. My girlfriend wanted to buy the fish mosaic, but that too had been snapped up.

     

    Artwave
    The exhibition also taught me a number of games that I had never played before, including a variation on chess made of stones that took me a long time to figure out!

     

    The exhibition didn’t just showcase the work of the veterans, but also gave the public an insight into the difficulties that the veterans face in everyday life. There was a section set up in the corner of the room allowing people to put on glasses that helped to visualize how difficult the veterans find it to work on the toys and games. The glasses varied from complete blindness, to black spots in the centre of the eye that made them frustrating to look through and the whole experience helped to put the difficulties of impaired vision into perspective.

     

    In the end however, the most pleasing aspect of the exhibition in my opinion was the large board of pictures that sat at the end of the room showing snapshots of everyday life at the Blind Veterans UK Ovingdean centre.

     

    The exhibition was a wonderful way to present the works of the veterans involved. Congratulations to all the people who made the exhibition such a success, especially:

     

    Frank Tinsley, Wallace Burnet-Smith, John Taylor, John Nunney, Marjorie Mower, John Gasston, Doug Stepney, Patrick Feeney, Norman Perry, Reg Godwin, Keith Mann, Diana Faulkingham, Arthur Watson, William Wolf, Bob Thirtle, Jean Williams, Eddie O’Brien, Jill Brice, Maurice Bowley, John McCullen, Brian Taylor, Pete Hammond, Bernard Parker, Jim Tribe, Marise Faulkingham, Ted Heaseman and all the staff and veterans at Blind Veterans UK that contributed.

     

    If you would like to find out about similar events coming up in the future, please visit our events calendar.

    Peace by Constance Sweeting.

    As a child I would visit the local war memorial to the men who were killed during the First World War, the memorial that had my great grandfather’s name on it, as he was killed at the age of 40.

    As a young woman I didn’t think about him, or my distant family. I moved out of the area in my late 20s and built a life and what passed for a career in the Cotswolds.

    As I grew older I started to think of my great grandfather – Albert George. A young soldier in the only photograph my grandfather had. I only knew about the family from my mother. My grandfather died when I was 10 and I remember him as a quiet man but as a young girl I was far too scared to speak to him. I don’t know why as looking back he was a kind man, not the imposing person I imagined. I remember when two local boys were giving me a Chinese burn in the front garden my grandfather came over and asked why they were picking on me as they were much older and I was a girl. He told them to go away and they did. He would sit in the garden on the stump of a tree that had been cut down, cross his legs and smoke a cigarette. Finding peace. In the summer he’d wear a panama hat and his shirt sleeves would be rolled up. He’d been a scaffolder his entire life and now it strikes me as a strange profession for him as I can see that he was a kind gentle man who was more of an artist than a labourer.

    I know this is about my great grandfather, but I can’t speak about one without mentioning my grandfather, also Albert George.

    My mother once told me that my grandfather’s overwhelming memory of his mother was of sitting at the piano as she played. He said she was a Lady. All of a sudden I wanted to see the house he grew up in, which was just 15 minutes from the where I’d grown up. I knew it was a small terraced workers cottage that today sells to city types.

    I drove from the Cotswolds, parked at the top of the road and walked to the cottage. There was a For Sale sign on the stone wall and on impulse I called the Estate Agent and set up a viewing for 10 minutes time. I stood outside until he arrived, a good looking guy in a flash motor.

    As I stepped through the doorway the air changed. It had been cold and wet outside, but inside it was sunny and the dust was floating on the rays from the sun in the hallway in front of me. There was a smell of baking. Two small boys aged about 10 and eight ran down the stairs and right past me.

    Just as I was about to turn to leave, a beautiful petite women in a long skirt and blouse walked past me laughing as she mock scolded the boys and told them not to run as they might knock their father over as he came through the door. I turned, and there standing in the doorway, was my great grandfather. He was a young man. The woman ran to him and they embraced. Time froze as their bodies touched and I could see that he was breathing in her scent, the smell of her skin, her auburn hair and her freshly laundered clothes. This was a man who had been in France at the Front. A man who hadn’t slept in a clean bed for months, perhaps years, who had lived with the stench of death and fear.

    Here was my great grandfather, Albert George, home, and safe, in the embrace of his beautiful wife Kate.

    Their embrace was broken as two young bundles of mischief launched themselves at their father. My grandfather Albert and his brother Les, two carefree young boys. Men I’d only ever seen as old and worn down by life, now happy, carefree and laughing. I’d never heard my grandfather laugh.

    I followed them into a small living room where there was a piano, a dining table and chairs and two comfortable chairs. Kate led Albert to one of the chairs and he sat down, but not as I have ever seen anyone sit down. He melted into the chair. The bones in his body seemed to dissolve as he fed himself into the comfort of the chair and the clean stillness of the room.

    I’d stepped back 100 years to witness a family that would be gone within a year. My great Grandfather was killed in 1915 and less than a year later Kate was dead. My grandfather and Les went to live with a relative and their lives changed forever. My heart was breaking as I watched this happy family in front of me. And they were happy. They touched – I didn’t think people did then. Albert couldn’t take his eyes off Kate and the boys. He hugged them, again in an age when I didn’t think people hugged. He held them close as though he was trying to suck their very essence into him. To carry it back with him to France where he could think of them and remember the peace, something to remove his mind from the reality of mud, and filth, the constant fear and the smell and sound of death all around.

    Kate bought him a cup of tea and a small plate of food, her hand rested gently on his, before she sat at the piano. Les, the younger brother, climbed onto his father’s knee and sat there as my grandfather sat on the floor by the piano and looked at his mother. She played a classical piece that I recognised. Then she played two songs that the boys sang along to. I looked at Albert and tears were running down his face. Kate was looking at my grandfather and Les was sitting on his father’s knee looking ahead and singing to the skies as Albert sat quite still as his tears fell silently.

    My heart broke. It hurt as it never had. Here was a beautiful family but this was the last time they would ever see one another as Albert was killed in France.

    The song was coming to an end and Albert wiped the tears away as Kate turned around.

    “I can’t believe you’re here at last. The boys and I have so much planned for the four of us. Tonight we’ll have a lovely dinner and then tomorrow we’ll walk to Crystal Palace to see the dinosaurs. There’s a concert in the Parish Hall that we could go to. Otherwise we can have our own concert here, just the four of us.”

    My grandfather said: “Les and I have learnt two new songs for you. We’ve been practising for weeks now.”

    “I’d prefer if we have our very own concert. Just us four. Just like we always do.” Said my great grandfather.

    Kate walked over and took Albert’s hand. I watched them look at one another and I understood that time does stand still. I prayed to God to let me do something. Please God don’t take this man’s life. Please spare him to grow old with Kate and watch his sons grow up. I walked towards Kate to touch her. As I placed my hand on her arm everything disappeared and I was once again stepping through the doorway.

    I walked into the living room and saw a Bang & Olufson hi-fi and large flat screen TV on the wall above the place where the piano had once stood. Where were they? Where were my beautiful family?

    Darren, the good looking estate agent, was beside me. I couldn’t hear what he said. I turned to him “You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.” “No ghosts. Is the kitchen through here? The garden’s south facing isn’t it?” I asked questions in a hurry to mask my heartbreak. “Is it ok if I take a look upstairs?”

    Ten minutes later I’d left the house and Darren had driven off. I sat in my car desperate to cry, big sobs that come from somewhere deep in your stomach and rock you to your very core, sobs of the heartbroken. I’d have to wait. I drove to a florist and bought some freesias. I’d seen freesias in the living room and Kate had bent to smell them. They’ve always been my favourite flower. I went to the Memorial and put them in front of my great grandfather’s name. I said a prayer – rest in peace Albert, Kate, Albert and Les. I love you all and may you all be together now. Laughing and singing, together again.

    ______________________________________________

    Once again we would like to thank David Nobbs for judging this year’s short story competition. We are grateful to this prolific genius who has kept us entertained for many years as he spends his time writing about people who never existed and create things for them to do that never happened, and that he has the joy of their company all day!

    In this picture: David Nobbs

    In this picture: David Nobbs

    David’s career as a comedy writer began in 1963 when he was a contributor to the iconic live Saturday evening satire show, That Was The Week That Was. You will of course all know him for The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and perhaps you watched the recent rerun of A Bit of a Do on the Drama channel.

    We will bring you a review of David’s latest novel The Second Life of Sally Mottram. It is now available in paperback at £8.99. Published by Harper Collins it is available in all bookshops and online. It’s recommended reading so get down to your local bookshop and buy a copy.

    Sheffield Photography week. By Keith Harness

    At the end of July the Sheffield centre was fully booked with people coming from all over to take part in photography week. We caught up with blind veteran Keith Harness to find out how the week went and to see some of the pictures taken!

     

    “A picture is the expression of an impression. If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?”
    Ernst Haas.

     

    The Sheffield summer photography week took place from the 28th July to the 1st August and saw blind veterans of varying photographic levels from beginner to professional come together – some for the first time – each expressing and sharing their passion in photography.

     

    Everyone arrived on Monday, enthusiastic and keen to begin the week’s activities. Following lunch we started the week with a group discussion, led by Kate Taylor a Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired (ROVI) who talked to the group about a number of visual aids currently available that members could use when taking part in their photography activities.

     

    Throughout the week the group were given a range of opportunities to improve their photography including an IT based discussion led by David Tatlowan IT instructor at the Sheffield centre. He taught various methods of transferring images between a camera and computer, labelling and storing these files, different methods of sharing image files and how to upload onto social media sites. Many attendee’s found this really useful and chose to have a one to one session afterwards with David to look into each of these areas in more detail and assess help they may need in the future.

    Computer training

     

    The first field trip of the week to Sheffield city centre. We explored the Winter gardens with its array of tropical plants, small galleries, with an abundance of sculptures and paintings on display, cafes and shops. These offered a wide range of images the group could capture. We also discovered the Peace Gardens with its small summer fair to the bus/ train stations, taking in along the route a number of architecturally interesting buildings on the way including the city hall, with its clock tower and vast open staircase. Offering the group not only the opportunity to capture images of Sheffield’s architecture but also the chance to take part in street photography capturing images of people relaxing in cafes, or going about their everyday lives.

     

    SBotanical Gardens

     

    For the next photo op, we went onto the train station capturing images of the wall of steel – a tribute to Sheffield’s steel industry of past with the metal representing the steel and the water following over the surface the cooling systems. Offering the group the chance to capture different effects, with water moving over the sculptures surface and the many reflections found within its surface of the neighbouring buildings and passers-by.

     

    The group, back at the Centre, took on posing for portraiture and the various ways you can ask a person to stand/sit when capturing their portrait, the various lighting techniques, tethered shooting, using a camera’s built in self-timer. Then we began capturing images of each other using a studio set up indoors. We also had a brilliant model for the group and everyone produced some great images.

     

    We had a brief set by the Sheffield Centre Manager, Terry called “Life in the Sheffield centre”, and the group shot both the architectural details, staff going about their everyday duties and members socializing in the evening.

     

    By Thursday morning everyone showed huge improvements and a high level of development so we explored a new subject – capturing close up images of varying floral displays and a number of still life items against different back grounds. All before setting out on the second field trip of the week to the Botanical Gardens with its vibrant flower beds, Victorian greenhouse and vast open grassed areas the group were able to on to capture images not only of the many tropical plants but also the vast trees which line the various walkways throughout the park.

     

    floral

     

    The highlight of the week had to be the display of wild birds, by ‘Hawks of Steele’ which included a number of different owls and hawks. It started with each bird being introduced to the group and then we were able to hold the different birds of prey whilst having the photo taken, before the display turned to the birds of prey flying away and back to the glove. During which those members were able to capture a wide range of images of with the birds sat on their perch, on the glove and in flight. Each presenting a different challenge to the group!

     

    Birds of Pray

     

    Friday saw the week draw to a close, but started with members viewing each other’s images or having an audio description, discussing these and choosing their favourite images from the week.

     

    All of the participants of the week were keen to continue at home what they’d learnt throughout the week. It was also a fantastic for the veterans to meet new friends and many who attended are going to keep in contact to keep learning and sharing tips from each other.

     

    Our thanks go to Esther Freeman (Member Activities Manager) for organising this event, to all of the staff members and volunteers who helped the group throughout the week.

     

    If you would like to find out about other events happening at our centres, please visit the events calendar on our website.

    Getting Crafty! Wood Week at our Llandudno centre

    Our centre in Llandudno recently dedicated a whole week to teaching visually impaired ex-Service men and women the craft of woodwork!  We were taking part in the Gwanwyn festival, which takes place in Wales each year and celebrates creativity in older age.

    The Gwanwyn festival is run by Age Cymru and is supported by the Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales. It is the festivals 8th year and throughout the month, 9,000 people will attend over 400 events.

    We took the festival as a wonderful opportunity to get everybody together and share interest in wood and craftsmanship. Throughout the week veterans had a chance to work with a love spoon craftsman called Llew Tudur, a Chainsaw Carver/Sculptor called Ian Murray from the North Wales Carvers Association and with the Waterfield family at the Woodskills Centre.

    wood week 1

    Pictured above: Ian Murray, Chainsaw Carver/Sculptor.  He made an owl from a trunk found in the grounds.

    Everyone who took part had a fantastic time, enjoying one another’s company, meeting local craftsmen and women and having a go at making all sorts from their own Love Spoons, a small wooden whale, wooden boxes and rocking horses. They enjoyed getting stuck in carving, sanding, cutting and finishing.  They enjoyed the process and the results were superb.

    Blind veteran Bill Mooney said about his time at Wood Week:

    “This week we made new friendships and cemented old ones. I am going home with more knowledge than I came with, because you can always meet someone you can learn from. The week brought out the creative side of everybody; it built confidence and independence and everyone was keen to finish their projects.

    My favourite bit was spending time with the chainsaw carver Ian Murray. He was a friendly down to earth man and explained every bit and let us feel the work as he made it. However, all of the demonstrators were first class and unique. Everybody contributed to the atmosphere, it did not matter how experienced they were. There was something for everyone and the right amount of varied activities. I’m pleased I was part of it.”

    wood week 2

    Pictured above Blind veteran Jo Elsender, he had this to say said about the Wood Week:

    “This week has inspired me so much; my head is still spinning with all the ideas of what I can do. I was apprehensive at first because I didn’t think I could do it. When we met the love spoon man Llew, I was terrified in case I could not do it, but with a little help I learnt quickly. I enjoyed the whole week; every day was a new challenge. The relaxed, supportive atmosphere meant that we could enjoy one another’s company and take an interest in what the rest of the team was doing.”

    If you would like to find out more about what we do to support visually impaired ex-Service men and women click here.

    Former member of the Women’s Royal Army Corps Paints pictures for Blind Veterans UK’s Poppy Wing

    Veronica Simpson, a blind veteran and former member of the Woman’s Royal Army Corps, has been asked by our Llandudno centre if she would like to paint a series of pictures to be exhibited. The centre asked is she could paint the pictures so that they could be used as markers to support the centres veterans and help them to find the Poppy Wing.

    Former member of the Women's Royal Army Corps Paints pictures for Blind Veterans UK’s Poppy Wing.

    Nadia Wazera, an arts and crafts instructor at our Llandudno centre described Veronica as “an inspirational lady with lots of great ideas, learning to paint has offered her an opportunity to make her ideas come alive.

    “Her confidence has had a real boost from knowing she can produce work to a superb finish.

    Former member of the Women's Royal Army Corps Paints pictures for Blind Veterans UK’s Poppy Wing.

    Each of Blind Veterans UK’s centres runs arts and crafts workshops to give veterans an outlet for their creativity. Whether it’s a skill someone thinks they may have lost or something they’ve never tried before, we help our members develop their creativity.

     Former member of the Women's Royal Army Corps Paints pictures for Blind Veterans UK’s Poppy Wing.

    After her week at the Llandudno centre and arts and crafts classes, Veronica said “I was honoured to be asked to paint pictures for the Poppy Wing. Considering I have never painted before (only a lounge), I was thrilled with how they have turned out. I can’t wait to get home and paint some more. I’ve had a real confidence boost this week.”

    We launched the No One Alone campaign to reach out to more people like Veronica. It is estimated that there are 68,000 plus blind veterans who could be eligible for our help but are unaware of it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss (including age-related sight loss) request our free support by calling 0800 389 7979.

    93 year old blind veteran rediscovers painting after 22 years of sight loss

    After a staggering 22 years of sight loss ex-Service veteran Eric Radford, from Nottingham, has rediscovered his favourite pastime, painting, with the help of Blind Veterans UK.

    Eric, who is now 93 years old, divulged “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to paint again. I never even gave it a thought but Blind Veterans UK has helped me to give it a go.

    “Last year, before I joined Blind Veterans UK, when I was 92 I thought a couple more years and I’m done for. Now I am enjoying my art and want to carry on.”

    We can see this passion through this gallery of pictures.

    Eric Radford Dog

    Eric joined the RAF in 1941 and started out in Squadron 157 as an armourer. Later he moved to a special unit and was stationed in Canada, the Americas and the West Indies.

    Eric says “I was very lucky. The RAF showed me the world. I had never been on a boat or a plane. In those days you didn’t have anything other than possibly a bicycle. The RAF made it possible for me to see more of the world.

    “One of the most memorable things that happened during my service was when a 25 pound bomb dropped on my shoulder but it was nothing out of the ordinary, really.”

    Eric Radford at Home

    Blind Veterans UK provides support, rehabilitation, training and recreation to blind veterans, regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.

    We have three fantastic care, rehabilitation and training centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno.

    Eric Radford - art in progress

    Eric says: “Blind Veterans UK helped me enormously; at my home a volunteer helps me with my post and groceries and at the Llandudno centre too. I’m able to do some gardening but most of all painting again.”

    Eric began to lose his vision in 1982 and was diagnosed with Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). His family and friends were very supportive, helping him whenever he needed.

    How Eric discovered Blind Veterans UK

    Eric only recently joined Blind Veterans UK after a fellow blind veteran urged him to join. He says “I had heard of Blind Veterans UK, formerly St. Dunstan’s, but I thought it was for totally blind service people. I never thought of joining or that they would be able to help me. Another fellow, who had been to one of the centres, told me what Blind Veterans UK does and told me to join. I’m so glad I did. They have done so much for me. I’ve been to Llandudno centre three times now and I’m very excited to go again this May.”

    We recently launched our No One Alone campaign which aims to reach out to an estimated 68,000 blind ex-Service personnel who could be benefiting from our support. Many do not know about the charity or they do not know that they are eligible for its services.

    Eric recently featured his art on the BBC. You can see his video here.

    BBC Eric Radford

    If you know someone that could benefit from our support, visit Blind Veterans UK’s No One Alone campaign:  www.noonealone.org.uk or telephone:  0800 389 7979.

    A taste of interactive Swedish art for our blind veterans

    This week our blind veterans visited the Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren’s new work ‘On Balance’ at the Fabrica gallery in Brighton. These interactive pieces welcome visitors to experience the art by walking through and on top of them.

    The extensive floor work has 713 polished bathroom scales in candy-pop colours, ranging from turquoise and lime to cerise and black.

    The exhibition itself was built to “acknowledge the sensual pleasure of the material world, and take delight in the moments of physical and social interaction.”

    With help of Blind Veterans UK our veterans have been able to regain their independence, following their sight loss and take delight in these new and experimental artistic experiences.  Today, we support blind veterans by providing free, lifelong practical and emotional support to those servicemen and women and their families. We support all blind veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight, reaching far beyond those blinded in conflict.

    If you would like to visit the exhibition, it is on until May 26th. It is part of the Brighton Festival 2014.

    You can view more of our arts and crafts activity on our blog.

    Interactive Gallery

    Talented Blind Artist Matthew Rhodes has painted a mural at our Llandudno centre.

    Blind veteran Matthew Rhodes served as an army physical training instructor with the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment until a motorbike accident gave him severe injuries. He was paralysed down the right side of his body, and was registered as blind due to brain damage.

    Matthew was told by Doctors that he would never walk again but this was not the case and 8 months after his accident Matthew joined Blind Veterans UK and rediscovered his independence. After training he started fundraising through various charity events from horse dressage to the London and Brighton Marathons!

    Matthew Rhodes' painting at our Llandudno centre

    Matthew soon discovered a talent for painting after attending an arts and crafts workshop at our Ovingdean centre in Brighton. Even though he had never painted before, used to be right handed, but now uses his left and is blind, he took to it straight away.

    Since then, Matthew has painted many pictures, most notably a portrait of Steven Gerrard that is signed by the England Captain and is due to be auctioned later this year to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK.

    Matthew’s talent has continued to develop so Steve Boswell, the Llandudno centre’s Rehabilitation and Training Manager, asked if he would paint one of the walls in the Falklands room at the centre.

    Matthew said “I was given no hint as to what was wanted for the painting, the choice was left all to me! Because the painting was to be in the Falklands room, I decided to do a painting representing the Falklands war. With a helping hand from my wife Michelle we chose to paint the Falklands islands as the base painting and then to paint the statue of a marine on top.”

    Matthew described how the map was designed to represent the scale and “ALL the troops who has served there.” He chose to paint the map in bold colours as he finds it is easier for people with sight loss to see, than using blended colours.

    He says “The marine statue I painted all in a bald bronze colour, but 3D so that it looked as though it was standing on top of the islands.” The union jack was also painted to look 3D and realistic like it was flying away from Matthew’s painting.

    Matthew Rhodes painting representing the Falklands war

    Matthew’s favourate part of the painting is the marines beret. When  choosing his favorite part he said “Funnyly enough though, I can’t see what the full painting looks like, just tiny bits of it! It took me five days to paint, starting at 0600hrs in the morning & finishing at 2000hrs in the evening, just stopping for the delishous meals, & always receiving a wonderful cup of tea!”

    “I hope for people to look at the painting & to remember all those troops who served in the Falklands War; God bless them all”

    If you would like to see more of Matthew’s talented artwork please visit his website.