An evolving role for veterans’ charity

Scottish War Blinded has  provided opportunities for sight-impaired veterans since World War 1
Scottish War Blinded has provided opportunities for sight-impaired veterans since World War 1

Scotland’s charity for visually impaired veterans held its inaugural meeting 100 years ago this week and set out its plan to support soldiers blinded by poison gas in World War One.

To celebrate its centenary, Scottish War Blinded has planned a programme of events celebrating 100 years of support for Scottish Armed Forces veterans.

At that meeting on April 14, 1915, it was decided a centre would be established to provide rehabilitation and training to blinded soldiers and sailors.

Scottish War Blinded began to receive the first soldiers at Grange Loan, Edinburgh, who received training in Braille and vocational skills.

The veterans went on to display remarkable courage in adapting to life after sight loss – something the ex-Servicemen and women who are supported by Scottish War Blinded continue to do today. In recent years, the charity has expanded its remit to support those who have been blinded subsequent to their service.

Scottish War Blinded chief executive Richard Hellewell said: “It is good to recognise how far our charity has come in 100 years from our earliest days providing training for veterans to our latest expansion which will see us open a new centre for veterans in Paisley.’’

With a variety of commemorative events and expansion planned in 2015, the charity will celebrate the achievements of veterans with sight loss as well as the commitment of staff and supporters over the last 100 years.

The centenary celebrations will culminate in December when the charity will open Centenary Sports Hall at the Linburn Centre, West Calder.

This is a new sports facility for visually impaired veterans which will enhance the specialist sports provision available in Scotland. This year four new houses are being built in West Lothian, continuing a 100-year tradition of providing accommodation for veterans.

The charity will unveil an exhibition ‘A Century of Expanding Horizons’ at Central Library, Edinburgh, in November which will guide the public through notable achievements of veterans supported by the charity.

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