Happy Fathers Day Dad!
This time next week, I will hopefully have finished the first of my big Challenges to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK. Most of my posts have been about the training for the challenges. However, today, on Father’s Day, my Dad has just checked into the Llandudno Centre for his introductory week and so I wanted to outline some of the great work that Blind Veterans UK do and why I am motivated to support their efforts. Part of their work centres around training and rehabilitation to help members learn new skills and gain support in making the most of their changed world. This is largely done at one of the three residential centres in Brighton, Sheffield and Llandudno. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take my parents on a tour around the Llandudno Centre and check out some of the facilities.
The site was originally developed around 1898 by the Lady Forester Trust as a convalescence home. During the Great War, it was designated an Auxilary Hospital and was used as a standby Field Hospital in WW2. It remained in the Trust until falling into disuse in the late sixties. In 1979 it was converted to a private hospital and became the North Wales Medical Centre until it was closed in 2006. It was the acquired by St Dunstans and extensively renovated to become the third Blind Veterans UK residential centre. It was officially opened by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards GCB CBE DSO ADC on 2 May 2013.
The focus on Veterans, means that all members have a shared experience, in addition to their site loss, which builds support and camaraderie to help members accept their new situations. There are a variety of testimonials on the Blind Veterans UK site and many of them reflect the fear and confusion on Day 1 of being thrust into a new situation but all reinforce the values of ‘No One Alone’ and the huge benefits of these centres. Jim’s story was one of the first that I read and really resonated as I see the challenges my Father is facing. The centre allows members to attend residential courses varying from introductory assessments through specific skills courses and onto respite care for members and their carers (non members pay a fee to cover costs). The facilities are just fantastic and provide a warm, welcoming and safe environment to allow members to understand their options and develop new skills. I was fascinated to see the support from other forces charities, with Help for Heroes sponsoring the gym and the ABF the Dining Hall.
Matt and Steve couldn’t have been more helpful and showed us the recreational facilities (including archery and shooting), the dining and social facilities, the gym and specially adapted studios to teach reading, craft and kitchen skills. I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity and to have met some of the Staff who do such a wonderful job to help members understand and begin to accept their situation and develop new skills to allow them to minimise the impact. Thank You guys for taking the time to show us around!
I know my Dad is very nervous about this week and I really wish I could be there to help him and perhaps join the ‘Regimental Dinner’ on Thursday but some muppet decided I need to cycle across the country on Saturday in Chase the Sun
If you would like to help support you can follow the links on the side bar
After-Note – More to follow
Blind Veterans UK have abducted my parents!!!
I have just come off the phone with my parents who are at their introductory training week at the Llandudno centre.
When I spoke on Sunday my Dad was overawed and wondering when he could come home . . . After two days he is overawed with the progress made!
He spoke for nearly 2 hours about the superb training, the staff, the kit and the new opportunities he can see in the future. I know it will continue to be a bumpy ride but I have not heard either Mum or Dad so excited and vibrant since he lost his sight!
Matt, Steve, Billy, Dennis, Lisa and all the other staff are either miracle workers or have replaced my folks with Aliens!
What an awesome cause!
If any of you are members and having second thoughts about attending an intro session – Go Now. The difference is confidence in just two days is unbelievable!