Festive help for blind veteran

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A blind veteran from Wakefield who would have been alone this Christmas is looking forward to celebrating it with military charity Blind Veterans UK this year.

Barry Best, 83, will spend the festive period with other vision-impaired ex-service men and women at the charity’s training and rehabilitation centre in Llandudno, Wales.

Mr Best joined the Royal Navy in 1948 as a boy soldier at just 15 years old. He served in the Home Fleet, in the Far East including Korea during the war, in Singapore during the Malayan crisis as well as in Suez during the crisis there. After 14 years, he was discharged as an Able Seaman in December 1962

Mr Best then held a variety of jobs, from driving tankers to running a pub. It was during his time as a publican in Harrow Weald that his sight began to deteriorate and he was diagnosed with glaucoma in 1974.

Mr Best, who has also been given a grant from Blind Veterans UK to pay for a carer, said: “My sight hadn’t completely gone, but it was limited. I had an operation that year to tackle the glaucoma. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I woke up with less sight then when I went under.”

In 2009, during a home visit from his local authority, Mr Best was told that he was entitled to free support from Blind Veterans UK.

Mr Best said: “I’d never heard of Blind Veterans UK before and now I can’t imagine not knowing them. To this day I’m very thankful to the man from the local council for putting me in touch. Everyone at Blind Veterans UK makes you feel worthwhile.”

If you served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, call 0800 3897979 or visit noonealone.org.uk.