The mother of a severely vision-impaired Army veteran is calling on other mother’s to contact Blind Veterans UK for support if they have a child who served in the Armed Forces and now has severe sight loss…

Brenda Bibby’s son, John Robinson, served in the Army for over ten years, but aged just 43 he lost his sight to the eye condition, macular degeneration, turning his life upside down.

Brenda already knew about Blind Veterans UK and the support they could provide to help veterans adjust to life with sight loss, and encouraged John to get in touch after seeing how much his sight loss affected him.

Brenda said: “Blind Veterans UK has changed my son’s life. It was difficult seeing him struggle with his sight loss. He was a young man and it certainly hit him hard. These days thankfully I have the old John back. He’s gone from strength to strength with the charity’s support.”

John’s sight loss began to deteriorate on Valentine’s Day in 2008, shortly after he’d suffered a heart attack. John said: “My sight went from ok to gone within two days. It was a real shock. I now live with no sight in my left eye and just peripheral vision in my right.”

John became depressed, as he had to give up driving and much of what he had enjoyed doing before he lost his sight. Becoming unemployed due to his vision-impairment compounded his problems. John said: “I feared for my future. I was in a dark place when I lost my sight.”

The impact of his sight loss was massive, especially as he was someone so used to being active. John served in the Parachute Regiment for ten and a half years between May 1982 and November 1992, with his service taking him around the world to places such as Italy, Canada, Northern Ireland and Oman.

Since starting to receive support from Blind Veterans UK in 2009, John has been given back his independence and confidence as the result of the charity’s training and meeting other beneficiaries of the charity who are also veterans living with severe sight loss. His wife, Sylvia has also been helped and supported by the charity, helping her adjust to John’s sight loss.

John said: “Blind Veterans UK has done so much for me and for Sylvia. I can’t praise them enough. The support has helped with major things from paying for the repairs to the kitchen and bathroom in my home, to more everyday things like being able to use a computer and providing equipment such as a liquid level indicator which helps me make hot drinks safely. They are faultless and absolutely brilliant! Best of all they help the veteran and their family adjust to, and learn to live with, severe sight loss.”

John now volunteers for the charity to help other veterans adjust to life with sight loss and supporting the charity’s No One Alone campaign which is reaching out to more veterans with sight loss like him.

John said: “I’m really enjoying volunteering for Blind Veterans UK, it means a lot to me. I don’t know where I’d be without their help. I think it’s likely that if my mum hadn’t found out about Blind Veterans UK and hadn’t encouraged me to get in touch, I’d still be in that same dark place I was when I first lost my sight.”

Brenda is encouraging other mums and relatives of Armed Forces veterans to contact Blind Veterans UK to find out about the free, lifelong support the charity can provide.

Brenda said: “I am not exaggerating at all when I say that Blind Veterans UK changed my son’s life, transforming him from someone unable to cope with his severe sight loss to the man he is today. He’s now back to the one I always knew, a happy, cheerful man.”

Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss. The charity has three training centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno, North Wales and a network of welfare officers around the UK.

If you are, or know of, an ex-Service man or woman who, like John, is now battling severe sight loss for any reason, call 0800 389 7979 or go now to find out how Blind Veterans UK could help.