On Tuesday afternoon, the Countess of Wessex was in Llandudno, Wales, to open a new facility for the Blind Veterans UK charity. This was her first official event for the charity after taking over from The Queen as patron.
Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 by Sir Arthur Pearson. Pearson founded the Daily Express. He also lost his sight. He was appalled at the lack of services for the blind in the UK. According to the Blind Veterans UK website: “We provide vision impaired Armed Forces and National Service veterans with the person-centered services and tailored support they need to discover life beyond sight loss. Blind Veterans UK’s work ranges from helping veterans relearn vital life skills and providing them with the tools they need to be independent in their own homes, to offering new learning, training and recreation opportunities and providing long-term nursing, residential and respite care.”
The charity has three centres and assists veterans who lose their sight in action, through an accident, illness or old age.
This new building will serve as a learning facility for former service men and women who either lost their sight, limbs, or both. Here, they will receive rehabilitation so they can live independently. Their primary focus is on those veterans who are at a higher risk of becoming homeless.
To build the facility, Blind Veterans UK received a £1.25m grant from the Veterans Accommodation Fund and donations from various groups and individuals. Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, the Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, told the North Wales Daily Post: “This fantastic new building, and our rehabilitation team, will offer specialist bespoke life skills programmes which focus on mental wellbeing, career options, communication skills and health and fitness promotion.
“It is an honour for all of us in the Blind Veterans UK family to welcome Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex as our Patron.”
Chief executive of Blesma, The Limbless Veterans, Barry Le Grys MBE had this to say to the Daily Post: “This exciting project will provide new opportunities for Blesma Members, alongside their Blind Veterans UK colleagues, to lead independent and fulfilling lives.”
Along with opening the new rehabilitation training centre, the Countess also learned and observed other activities and services Blind Veterans UK provides to blind veterans. She visited the charity’s Arts and Crafts studio where veterans learn skills to produce paintings, woodworks and textiles.