Veteran celebrates military charity’s anniversary

John Gasston at Blind Veterans UK's 100th anniversary
John Gasston at Blind Veterans UK's 100th anniversary

A BLIND military veteran attended a celebratory event to mark charity Blind Veterans UK’s 100th anniversary.

John Gasston, 77, from Findon, reunited with several other veterans at the charity’s centre in Ovingdean, East Sussex.

John joined the Royal Rhodesia Regiment in 1962. Tragically, he lost his sight on active duty in 1975 when a hand grenade exploded six inches from him, injuring his arm, as well as his eyesight.

He recovered and carried on working as long as he was able to in Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe - but his sight had deteriorated to such an extent that he was forced to retire on medical grounds and he moved to the UK in 1989.

John, who has received help from Blind Veterans UK for 25 years, said: “Instantly losing your sight in the way I did is, of course, a great shock. It took me a very long time to come to terms with it. I’m a very practical person and it was so frustrating not to be able to do simple tasks anymore.

“Blind Veterans UK has been such a help to me for the last 25 years. The support that they have given me has been so valuable. They help by providing equipment and training that allows me to keep my independence.”

Through the charity, he has learned new skills and lived as independently as possible. The charity trained him as an engraver and many of the brass plaques in its Brighton centre today were engraved by John.

He has also received training to allow him to utilise IT so that he can keep in touch with friends and family. At the age of 69, John also joined the Blind Veterans UK ski club.