National charity helps blind Royal Navy veteran rediscover his independence
Ex-Serviceman Norman Roper from Witney joined the Royal Navy on 9 June 1947. He served in the UK and Far East and was a Leading Signalman by the time of his discharge on 23 May 1956.
Following his service in the Royal Navy, he joined the Police Force where he worked his way up to the Criminal Investigation Department, finishing his policing career in the Serious Fraud Squad. He then went to work for the Oxford branch of Selfridges where he was Chief Security Officer. Using his extensive background in police work and security he then opened and ran his own detective agency until 2008.
After leaving work, Norman, 84, suffered from age-related sight loss and this had a major impact upon his life, plunging him into "a dark place". Norman said: "Losing my sight was devastating and put a massive strain on my whole family, whilst robbing me of my independence. I was an active man and really enjoyed cycling before I lost my sight; not being able to do what I used to be able to do frustrated me immensely. I was depressed and angry and this put a strain on my marriage."
Thankfully, Norman regained his independence through training and specialist equipment he received from Blind Veterans UK. "I found out about the charity through a chance encounter with a representative from Dolphin Guide, which provides computing software for the vision-impaired. I was talking to the company representative when the name Blind Veterans UK came up and from what I learned about the charity during that conversation I felt that I could benefit from the charity's help. That's why I got in contact with them."
Blind Veterans UK provided Norman with equipment which helped him manage his sight loss, including magnifiers, readers, letter readers and a printer enabling him to communicate and organise essential paperwork. He also received an adapted exercise bike to use in his home, while the computer software Norman needed was installed on his home computer for free.
Norman visited the charity's Brighton centre with his wife, Jean. "I found the experience really uplifting, as other vision-impaired ex-Service personnel were at the charity's centre receiving training and help to overcome and live with their sight loss too. There was a feeling of unity and camaraderie. The support of my wife, Jean, also really helped me recover the loss of motivation I felt when I lost my sight. It ended my feeling of isolation."
The impact of sight loss can be shattering to the individual it affects and it can put a strain upon close relationships. But with the right support it can become much more manageable. The free services and lifelong support Norman has received from Blind Veterans UK helped him to rebuild the relationship with Jean and the rest of his family.
Norman said: "Blind Veterans UK has helped me and my family enormously. I've got so much of my independence back. I've been able to meet other veterans in a similar situation and have been given lots of equipment and training to help adjust to my sight loss. Life is much better now. I am so grateful to Blind Veterans UK for providing the skills and support I needed to allow me to live with my sight loss and regain my confidence."
Blind Veterans UK is a national charity providing vital services and support to ex-Service men and women and their families. The charity's No One Alone campaign is reaching out to the tens of thousands of vision-impaired ex-Service men and women who are now battling severe sight loss and could be eligible for support but don't currently realise it.
The charity has three training and rehabilitation centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales and a network of welfare officers around the UK.
Regardless of how a veteran lost their sight or when they served, Blind Veterans UK will provide free, lifelong support to them and their families to help them discover life beyond sight loss. If you are a vision-impaired ex-Service man or woman, or know someone who is, find out more at: www.noonealone.org.uk or telephone: 0800 389 7979.
For all media enquiries, please contact:
Marketing and Communications Assistant
Blind Veterans UK
12 - 14 Harcourt Street
London W1H 4HD
T: 020 7616 7931
Notes to Editor
Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan’s) is a national charity that believes that no-one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone. It provides blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.
The charity needs £100 million over 5 years to provide lifelong support to blind ex-Service men and women. Find out more at: www.blindveterans.org.uk, and follow us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/blindveteransuk and on Twitter at: twitter.com/blindveterans.