A blind veteran from Swindon will celebrate Blind Veterans UK’s 100 year anniversary at a special garden party at Buckingham Palace in early June.
Dorothy Shepherd, 91, will be visiting the palace with more than 1,000 other veterans helped by Blind Veterans UK, to mark the military charity’s 100 years of proud service and support to blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) during World War II. She worked as a Radio Telephone Operator communicating with Lancaster Bombers and then as a Wireless Operator, serving from 1942 to 1945.
Dorothy lost her sight later in life due to age related macular degeneration (ARMD). She started receiving support from Blind Veterans UK in 2009 after learning about the charity in the Swindon talking newspaper.
She said: “I didn’t know if Blind Veterans UK helped women but I got in touch with them and they told me that they definitely do! They started helping me straight away.”
Since she began to receive help and support from the charity, Dorothy has received training and specialist equipment to help her continue to live as independently as possible with sight loss.
Dorothy added: “It is such a lovely charity. I regularly visit their centres in Brighton and Llandudno for holidays and I particularly enjoy learning new arts and craft skills.
“One of the instructors taught me how to use special coloured modelling clay which I now use all the time at home to make bracelets and things.
“They have given me a special CCTV reader which blows up documents to any size. This means I can read things that I used to have wait for someone else to read to me. It makes a big difference.”
Dorothy and her grandson Nathan will be joining other veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK at a special garden party at Buckingham Palace, an event she’s keenly looking forward to. “Neither of us have ever been to Buckingham Palace before. It will be such a special day and we’re both really looking forward it,” she said. “I’m very proud to have been asked to attend and celebrate the centenary of such a brilliant charity.”
Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s) was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in World War I. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning World War II to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.
For 100 years, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, says: “All of us at Blind Veterans UK feel both honoured and very proud to celebrate our Centenary at such a special event. It will be a fantastic day for our veterans, whatever the weather.
“This anniversary also provides the opportunity for us to look forward to the challenges that lie ahead for Blind Veterans UK. It is a critical time for our charity as the number of blind veterans we support is increasing; in the past year, more blind veterans have registered for our help than ever before in the charity’s history and this trend is set to continue.”
Learn more about the charity’s 100 year history and how you can support its vital work today.