A blind veteran from Ellesmere Port is set to pay homage on Remembrance Sunday.
Peter Olney, 82, from Great Sutton is to march at the Cenotaph in London with Blind Veterans UK.
Peter has been attending Remembrance Sunday services for more than 70 years in Luton and Ellesmere Port but Sunday November 13 will be the first time he will have been present at the national Remembrance Sunday service.
He will be marching past the Cenotaph in Whitehall with more than 100 other representatives of Blind Veterans UK, formerly St Dunstan’s, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-servicemen and women.
Peter joined the Royal Air Force in 1952 as part of National Service. He was trained as a clerk and became part of the administrative branch stationed at RAF Bassingbourn in Cambridgeshire and RAF Chessington in Surrey.
He says: “I loved being in the RAF so much that I wanted to sign on. However an accident to my knee landed me in hospital and meant I couldn’t continue serving in the RAF.”
Peter was medically discharged in 1953 and went on to work for Vauxhalls as a technical clerk for 32 years.
He started to lose his sight around 10 years ago and was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration as well as glaucoma.
“Because it went quite gradually I feel that over time I adapted to my sight loss in a great many ways.
“However I was grateful to be introduced to Blind Veterans UK by fellow blind veteran Geoff who works at Arrowe Park Hospital,” he explains.
Peter started to receive help and support from Blind Veterans UK in 2010 and went on an introduction week at the charity’s training and rehabilitation centre in Llandudno.
“The help I received at the charity’s centre and the ideas they provided to live independently with sight loss are fantastic,” says Peter.
In addition to training, Peter was supplied with equipment including a liquid level indicator to make tea, a colour identifier and a scanner.
Peter says: “I tend to keep myself busy and I do all the cooking at home. Now I’ve got stickers for the hob and the oven so I know which setting it is on.
“It’s the little things that make a big difference and help you adapt to your new circumstances.
“Remembrance is incredibly important to me. All of my family have served in the Armed Forces, both my grandfather and father served in the Boer war and First World War respectively and my grand daughter’s husband is currently serving.”
Peter’s father served in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and was sent to Belgium to fight in the Battle of the Somme.
This November coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of that battle and Blind Veterans UK supported more than 250 blinded veterans who lost their sight there.
“It’s poignant that I’ll be at the national Remembrance Sunday service during the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme,” continued Peter.
“I will be paying homage to all those who gave their life, those who were gassed or blinded as well as all those who managed to get back safely. Without them we wouldn’t be here today.”
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Maj Gen (Rtd) Nick Caplin said: “This year’s Remembrance Sunday is particularly poignant as our delegation of current blind veterans remember those blinded at the Somme but also those who didn’t make it back.
“Today, Blind Veterans UK supports more blind and vision-impaired veterans than ever before in the charity’s history and we have set an ambitious target to double the number of veterans we support in the next five years.”
The charity is the national body for blind and vision-impaired ex-servicemen and women providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss.
It estimates there are currently 59,000 blind veterans who would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of the help which is on offer.
Anyone who served in the Armed Forces or did National Service or someone they know who served and is now battling severe sight loss can find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting noonealone.org.uk.
The charity believes that no-one who has served the country should have to battle blindness alone.
It provides blind and vision-impaired ex-servicemen and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.