A blind veteran from Peterborough is set to march at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday.
Jim Sexton, (94) from Orton Brimbles, will be marching at the Cenotaph in London with more than 100 other blind veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Jim said: “At Remembrance I think of both my dad and grandad who fought during the Battle of the Somme as well as the brother my dad lost during the First World War. When I was ten years old I marched with my dad and grandad on Remembrance Sunday in London, so when I march at the Cenotaph it’s like I’m following in their footsteps.”
Jim joined the Army in 1942. He initially joined the Manchester Regiment, then transferred to the 2nd Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, serving in Algeria, Italy and Greece.
In 1945, Jim retrained as a cook in Athens and became part of the Catering Corps until he was discharged in 1947 as a corporal.
Jim said: “Being in the Forces was a very positive experience for me. I come from an Army family and I honestly believe there’s nothing like the camaraderie of Service life.”
When Jim left the Army he became a storeman for an engineering firm, and he lost his right eye due to a work-related accident in the 1950s. Much later he developed age-related macular degeneration in his left eye. Fortunately, Jim found out about the support of Blind Veterans UK through his local council, and he joined the charity in 2015.
Jim added: “Blind Veterans UK has been good to me. They’ve given me IT training and now I can use an iPad to play cards and keep in touch with my friends. I’ve also been given some talking scales, which help when I make pies at home.
“Whether it’s at home or at one of the charity’s rehabilitation centres, I’m very well looked after. Blind Veterans UK is always there to provide advice and support, or to put me in touch with other people who can help.
Alongside equipment and training, Jim has enjoyed the camaraderie of meeting other blind veterans through local lunch clubs and reunions. Two years ago Jim also attended a special garden party at Buckingham Palace to mark the centenary of Blind Veterans UK.
Jim is set to march with other vision-impaired ex-Service men and women supported by Blind Veterans UK as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations in London on Sunday 12 November 2017. Specsavers stores across the UK will be fundraising from 6 to 12 November on behalf of Blind Veterans UK to help Jim, and others like him, march at the Cenotaph.
Specsavers has supported Blind Veterans UK since 2012 and, as well as raising money for the charity, has referred a number of customers to them so they can access its support.
Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB said: “Remembrance Sunday is always a very poignant time for our blind veterans and it is fantastic that Specsavers are able to support them to get to march at the Cenotaph.
“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.”
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 estimates that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting blindveterans.org.uk