An 89-year-old blind veteran from Steyning is celebrating Turkey and Tinsel Week this week.
Turkey and Tinsel week is an annual event run by staff at the Blind Veterans UK’s centre in Brighton, where veterans like Beryl Wilson are invited to stay for the week and enjoy celebrating the festive season with other blind veterans.
Beryl Served in the Royal Army Medical Corps between 1945 and 1948 as a medical orderly in London.
She said: “I enjoyed Serving. It had its good points and its bad but overall we had fun.”
After leaving the Army, Beryl took a job doing office work in London, and met her husband in 1949. They got married in 1951 and went on to have two children.
Beryl first noticed she was having problems with her eyesight in 1973. She was sent to Moorfields Eye Hospital but they were unable to diagnose the problem. As the problem only persisted in her left eye Beryl managed to cope with her deteriorating condition, until she began having problems with her right eye in 1995. At this point she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, and was registered blind in 1998.
Fortunately, on a visit to Worthing Hospital to get a new magnifier in 2006, a member of staff referred Beryl to Blind Veterans UK after she happened to mention a story from her time in the Army. Beryl had not heard of the charity but she filled in the form and became a beneficiary in 2005.
Beryl said: “The staff at Blind Veterans UK have been marvellous. We go to the Brighton centre three or four times a year, and we have been to Llandudno and Sheffield as well. The staff are so generous, if there is anything they can do to help you, no matter how small, they will do it. It really is a wonderful charity.”
Beryl and her husband will attend Turkey and Tinsel this week. Beryl said: “We are both really looking forward to Turkey and Tinsel Week, we have been three or four times and we always have a fantastic week. We get to enjoy a great Christmas dinner and it gives my husband a break from cooking!”
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 discover life beyond sight loss. The charity estimates that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.
For more information, call 0800 389 7979 or visit www.noonealone.org.uk.
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