AT our April meeting we welcomed our speaker Nigel Whitely from St Dunsten’s which is now called Blind Veterans UK. This name clearly describes who they help.
Nigel was an ex Petty Officer in the Royal Navy with her Majesty Commanders. He caught a tropical disease which affected his main body organs and eyesight. Eight months after getting married he went completely blind. He left the Navy in 1987.
St Dunstan’s started in 1915 by Sir Arthur Pearson their first chairman. He was blind caused by glaucoma and was the owner and founder of the Daily Express.
They were named after a house in London’s Regent Park, St Dunstan’s Lodge, which an American banker Otto Kalin loaned to Sir Arthur. It was to help veterans blinded during the First World War. Now they work with people who have lost their sight in conflicts, as well as older veterans whose blindness is caused by age or disease. They have three residential assessment centres in Ovingdean, Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno. They are trained in new skills. Since 1915 they have supported more than 35,000 people.
Nigel brought along various sticks used by the blind and gave a demonstration with them. He showed us his speaking watch and gadgets used for the kitchen. A very interesting talk, and we all enjoyed a hot cross bun with our cup of tea.
Our next meeting is on May 15 when our speaker Alex Bailey will give an illustrated talk on Hastings Country Park. We will also have a bric-a-brac stall.
We meet on the third Wednesday of each month from 2pm to 4pm at the Friends Meeting House, South Terrace, Hastings. New Members are always welcomed. All enquiries ring 01424 717709.