Veteran Roy's big date at Cenotaph

A Fylde veteran is to march at the Cenotaph in London this Remembrance Sunday with the charity Blind Veterans UK.

Friday, 11th November 2016, 9:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:29 pm
Blind ex-serviceman Roy Valentine

Roy Valentine, 83, from St Annes, will be marching in Whitehall with more than 100 other blind veterans supported by the national charity for vision-impaired ex-service men and women.

“I’m really looking forward to Sunday at the Cenotaph – it will be a great honour to be there and I will be thinking of former comrades,” said Roy, whose sight is severely restricted.

“My grandson Chris lives in London and I am really looking forward to also spending some time with him.”

Wreaths being laid at the Cenotaph in London's Whitehall

Roy joined the Royal Engineers in 1951 as part of his National Service and worked as an electrician. He had his initial training in Elgin, Scotland and later at Chatham before being sent to the Middle East as a support unit to the 32 Railway Squadron.

He said: “We needed to put everything in place before the large numbers of troops came. I worked on refrigeration systems, it was a basic job but it needed to be done. It was important to keep them going and protect them from rogues as they were holding food for at least 80,000 troops.”

Roy left the Army in 1953 but was in the Army Reserves for a further five years.

He worked several jobs as an electrician and ended up working for Manchester City Council as a personnel officer for 20 years.

Wreaths being laid at the Cenotaph in London's Whitehall

A widower, he moved to Fylde 16 years ago and is a former secretary/treasurer of Lytham St Annes Friendship Club, which meets weekly at the Lord Derby pub in St Annes.

Roy started experiencing problems with his sight in 1986 and went to the ophthalmologist where he was diagnosed with macular degeneration.

He said: “I didn’t realise I was having problems until I was squinting to see anything. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do much for me. Slowly but surely I had to give up things that made me independent like driving.”

Roy started receiving free help and support from Blind Veterans UK in 2014 after learning about the charity through his local macular society. He went to one of the charity’s rehabilitation and training centres for an induction week where he learned how to live independently with sight loss.

“Blind Veterans UK really look after you,” he said. “They went through everything and identified where I needed equipment or training that would help me in my everyday life.”

Roy was given a magnifier, a talking watch, a talking mobile phone and Supernova software for his computer as well as training on how to use it and said: “It’s great to know that there’s always someone from Blind Veterans UK on the other end of the phone if we need anything.”

Chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin, said: “This year’s Remembrance Sunday is particularly poignant as our delegation of current blind veterans remember those blinded at the Somme but also those who didn’t make it back.”