It was about two years ago that I noticed my sight was starting to go. It slowly got worse, but then when my wife died last year, it suddenly went almost altogether. It was very hard to adjust and I thought my life had ended.
But, thanks to my time doing National Service back in the 1950s, I've been able to access support from Blind Veterans UK and that has changed everything.
I hadn't heard of Blind Veterans UK before, but when I went to a meeting at my local vision impairment club, I got chatting to another veteran supported by the charity who put me in touch with them and it's all gone from there.
When I lost my sight, I lost a lot of my confidence and my independence, but Blind Veterans UK has helped me tremendously. I've got a new lease of life and a completely new outlook now.
The support, including equipment such as a CCTV reader to help me read my own post again and emotional support from the staff and the other veterans, has been unbelievable. I've found that by meeting many of the other veterans, I've been helped to realise that there's still so much you can do once you've lost your sight - blindness isn't the end.
The charity has a number of centres around the UK, and earlier this year I visited the Sheffield centre to find out more about the support the charity provides. While I was there I got chatting to one of the other veterans and we've been firm friends ever since. We went to the Llandudno centre this summer for the charity's Fishing Week where we fished for the first time in years - that was brilliant! We've also just been on holiday to Spain together and are planning to go again next year.
I'm going back to the Sheffield centre in the New Year for a week of IT training so that I can learn to use a tablet with specialist software - I've been struggling to get to grips with it, so I'm looking forward to learning some new skills.
Blind Veterans UK has helped me so much. Whatever I need to help me with my sight loss, they're right there, ready to help. And they could help you, or someone you know, as well. Anyone who served in the Armed Forces or did National Service, like me, and now has severe sight loss, could be eligible for support. To find out more, call 0800 389 7979 or visit www.noonealone.org.uk.
With thanks to the charity Blind Veterans UK, who kindly provided Gordon's story.