Blind Veterans UK – the charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Servicemen and women – marked its 100th anniversary this month with a service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey. Nearly 1,800 people attended the service, which celebrated the charity’s many achievements. These included more than 400 veterans who have been helped by the charity, as well as friends, family members and supporters of the organisation.
Broadcaster David Dimbleby gave a reading at the service. He said: “I am honoured to play a part in this centenary celebration of Blind Veterans UK. It is a marvellous charity with a rich history. I have always been impressed by the way ex-Service men and women who have lost their sight find a new life, a new way of working and a new comradeship with the help of Blind Veterans UK."
The service itself was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall. Actor Barbara Windsor, a supporter of the charity, also read at the event and there was a performance by Welsh classical soprano Gwawr Edwards.
The charity, which was known as St. Dunstan’s until 2012, was originally founded in 1915 to help blinded veterans who had served in World War I. Since then the charity has provided assistance for more than 35,000 blinded veterans.
As well as the Westminster Abbey service, the charity has been marking its centenary throughout the year. There have been plaques and fundraising events, a ‘Perceptions of Blindness’ survey and a documentary aired on Forces TV.
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, said: “In 2015, Blind Veterans UK must also look forwards. 100 years after our founding, we currently support more veterans than ever before in the charity's history and are growing all the time as we enter our second century."