Ex-soldier from Exeter to march with his guide dog on Remembrance Sunday with Blind Veterans UK
A blind veteran from Devon will march with his guide dog together with other blind veterans to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday for Blind Veterans UK.
John Evans, 61 from Talaton, and his guide dog Johnny will join more than 100 other representatives of Blind Veterans UK, which this year celebrates its 100 years of service to vision impaired ex-Service men and women.
John served in the Royal Air Force from 1972 until 1978 where he worked as an Engineer. He trained at RAF Swinderby and later he was stationed at RAF Bicester and RAF Abingdon.
In 1999, John was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease which gradually causes sight loss. He started receiving help and support from Blind Veterans UK in 2012.
John says: “I was having a hard time. Ten years into losing my sight and I felt like a waste of space. Blind Veterans UK picked me up and showed me what was possible.
“I recently went on an activities week at the charity’s Brighton centre and we did everything from indoor rock climbing to driving Go Karts. The charity’s training has also been great. They provided me with a laptop and IT training and I’m now even more independent than I was before.”
It was through Blind Veterans UK John learned about the use and importance of guide dogs and in 2014 he contacted the charity Guide Dogs about getting his own.
John says: “I got paired with Johnny in May this year and together we had John Evans and Johnny several weeks of training. It was important to me to get our partnership right as living in the countryside is quite different for guide dogs and I wanted to make sure we formed the perfect team.”
John will be marching to the Cenotaph for the third time but it is the first time he will march with his guide dog as this year marks the first year guide dogs are allowed on the parade on Remembrance Sunday.
John says: “It’s important to me to march with Johnny for Blind Veterans UK as both charities have supported me immensely.”
John and Johnny will march together with more than 100 other blind veterans on Remembrance Sunday for Blind Veterans UK.
He says: “With Blind Veterans UK I get to talk to veterans who served during the Second World War as well as other conflicts such as the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan. Remembrance Sunday is my way of paying respects to those generations.”
Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in World War I. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning World War II to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.
For 100 years, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.
Visit blindveterans.org.uk to learn more about the charity’s 100 year history and how you can support its vital work today.
(from a press release)
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