A bronze statue commemorating the end of the First World War has been unveiled in Manchester by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO…

The statue, of seven blinded First World War soldiers, has been permanently placed outside Manchester Piccadilly Station as a memorial to the injured of that conflict.

Commissioned by military charity Blind Veterans UK, the statue, entitled Victory Over Blindness, depicts the seven soldiers after losing their sight, marching with their hand on the shoulder of the man in front. The Countess of Wessex unveiled the statue in her role as Patron of Blind Veterans UK.

Blind Veterans UK was founded more than 100 years ago to support those blinded in the First World War. Now, the charity supports veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight.

Victory Over Blindness is a phrase first used by the founder of Blind Veterans UK, Sir Arthur Pearson, and continues to guide the charity’s principles today. Blind Veterans UK supported more than 3,000 First World War blind veterans with rehabilitation and training allowing them to achieve victory over blindness.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Her Royal Highness said: “This statue commemorates not only the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, but also the life-changing support Blind Veterans UK offers to vision-impaired ex-Service men and women since that conflict through to the present day.

“As we approach the anniversary of the end of the First World War and, quite rightly, remember all of those who never returned, it is also important to remember those who did, changed by their experiences. I have seen at first hand the difference the charity makes to the lives of blind veterans and I am looking forward to meeting many more blind veterans here today and hearing their stories.”

Speaking about the statue, Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, said: “We support all blind veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight. The statue demonstrates the life-changing impact the charity has had over the last 103 years and is our way of commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “The Victory Over Blindness sculpture is a poignant reminder of the difficulties wounded soldiers, blinded in war, face in their lives. However, it is also an inspiring image, that there is support and assistance there that helps visually impaired people to adjust to life after losing their sight.”

The sculpture was conceived and designed by artist and sculptress Johanna Domke-Guyot and funded by the generous donations of The Gosling Foundation as well as other individuals and organisations. The location of the statue at Manchester Piccadilly has also been made possible thanks to the support of Network Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester.