Veteran praises charity

A blind former RAF parachute instructor has thanked a national charity for helping him in his time of need.

Peter Phipps

Veteran, Peter Phipps

Peter Phipps has praised Blind Veterans UK, a charity which supports vision impaired ex-servicemen and women, as “absolutely marvellous”.

He now wants to spread the word of their work to make sure others in a similar situation can access their support.

Peter began to lose his sight years after serving in the RAF, but the charity helps veterans regardless of when they served and when or how they lost their sight.

The 84-year-old, from Kidlington in Oxfordshire, receives free and comprehensive support from the charity to help him live independently.

He joined the RAF in 1945, initially as an aircraft instrument mechanic and went on to become a parachute instructor.

He said: “There were these 20 or so blokes who seemed to always be surrounded by WAAFs (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) when off duty.

“I wanted to know what made them so special, so I asked a friend why they were getting all the attention – he told me they were parachute instructors.

“I thought that seemed like a bloody silly thing to do, throwing yourself out of a plane and then teaching other people to do it, but there was danger pay involved so I signed up to become an instructor as well.”

Peter left the RAF in 1949 and went on to work as a director for a number of companies before retirement. A few years ago, he started to notice that he was experiencing blurred vision.

Peter’s optician found that he was suffering from high blood pressure and that a burst blood vessel behind his eye was causing him to lose his sight.

He joined Blind Veterans UK last year and has since visited the charity’s rehabilitation centre in Brighton, become a volunteer for the charity and represented Blind Veterans UK at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day.

He said: “I’ve been so impressed with Blind Veterans UK. It’s an absolutely marvellous organisation and I can’t even begin to express my admiration for the work they do.

“I really want to make sure that as many people as possible find out about Blind Veterans UK and that anyone who may be eligible for their support gets in contact with them.”

The charity estimates there are more than 68,000 blind veterans who are unaware they are eligible for the charity’s services. Veterans, including those who did National Service, are eligible for help.

To access support, call 0800 389 7979 or visit http://www.noonealone.org.uk.