Blind Veterans celebrate 100th birthday with Sophie at garden party

Blind Veterans UK today celebrated their 100th anniversary at a garden party at Buckingham Palace, hosted by The Countess of Wessex.

The Queen, as patron of Blind Veterans, invited almost 2000 volunteers, staff and those receiving support from the organisation, to celebrate its centenary with tea and cake. The Countess of Wessex hosted the event, as a supporter of other sight organisations.

Her daughter, Lady Louise, suffered from esotropia – a condition which means both eyes do not look in the same direction, and had corrective surgery last January; if left untreated, the condition can cause vision problems. It is thought her daughter’s condition has inspired the Countess to support organisations like Vision 2020.

Graham Smith, 77, was in the Royal Artillery between 1955 and 1957 for National Service, and was Sergeant by 1961. He lost his sight later in life due to age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. He spoke of his difficulty at coming to terms with blindness: ‘It was initially very difficult for me. I’m not a mardy person but it was sad to think I wouldn’t be able to drive or do things I enjoyed like golf or snooker any more.’

Graham began to receive support from Blind Veterans last year, and has since has received training and specialist equipment to help him continue to live as independently as possible, including a CCTV reader, which he has said has changed his life.

Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and over the century it has been operating, has supported over 35,000 blind veterans and their families, including World War II veterans and those from more recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Former Major General Nick Caplin, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘All of us at Blind Veterans UK feel both honoured and very proud to celebrate our centenary at such a special event.’

Photo: Ian Gavan/NunnRota/Nunn Syndication/Polaris

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