Veteran of Welwyn Garden City to pay his respects at London Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday
PUBLISHED: 10:52 10 November 2017
supplied by Blind Veterans UK
A blind veteran from Welwyn Garden City is set to march at the Cenotaph in London this Remembrance Sunday with the charity Blind Veterans UK.
On November 12, Ralph Dines, 82, will be joined by more than 100 other blind veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-servicemen and women.
He said: “I’ve been to my local Cenotaph quite a few times but never to London before.
“I will be proud to be there with Blind Veterans UK and will think about my grandad who died of his wounds in the First World War as well as all those that have died in service.”
Ralph joined the army as part of his National Service in 1953.
He served with the Royal Signals as a wireless operator and drill instructor based in Catterick.
He left the army as a Corporal.
He said: “I look back on it very fondly.
“When you’re doing National Service you can’t wait to get home, but when you’re back you can’t wait to get back to the barracks!”
Ralph lost his sight much later in life due to glaucoma in 2012.
He said: “I’ve lost about 85 per cent of my vision.
“I can see things but it’s like a cloud and I couldn’t read any more.
“I try to remain as positive and independent as possible though, it’s about determination.”
He started to receive support from Blind Veterans UK in 2016.
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.
Ralph said: “So far I’ve been down to one of their centres in Brighton for an introduction week where you learn so many different things. I’ve since been back for my first IT course.
“Since losing my sight I hadn’t been happy outside of my home for a long time, but they made me feel like a human being again.”
As well as enjoying visiting the charity’s training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton, Ralph has also been provided with equipment to allow him to continue to live independently at home.
He said: “The equipment is great.
“I use talking books, a magnifier, a talking microwave and a beeper which allows you to make your tea!
“Being able to read again is fantastic and makes a huge difference to your independence.
“I’ve now set my sights on trying to learn to fish again and I’m about to go for a Driving Week which will be great!”
Specsavers is collecting money and will donate £1 from every eye test conducted that week.
You can find out more and donate towards Ralph’s march at blindveterans.org.uk/helpralph